Page Exhibits Motifs from the Global Backyard II, Reflects on Collaboration, Life, and 40 Years of Art Practice
"I see my work as a printmaker as an extension of the values I find most important in my life," says Associate Professor of Art, Greg Page. "I had an early interest in nature and plants and decided that art was a way for me to own that and investigate more deeply — to somehow get better at it, to know more. Not only do I feel I have done that, but I also see plants and gardens as a way of continually, and patiently, connecting with the world and sustaining myself and my practice."
After a 40-year career as an artist and member of the art faculty at AAP, Page recently installed his final faculty show of prints in the John Hartell Gallery ahead of his retirement this July. The exhibition titled Motifs from the Global Backyard II builds upon a body of work that extends as far back as 2002 when Page's experiments with lithography yielded a process that allows the specimens he meticulously collects to make a direct impression of themselves on paper.
Prior to his interest in printmaking that began in junior college in St. Louis, Missouri in the 1970s, Page sees his early fascination not only with the natural environment and plants — but also with their documentation and systems of organization — as a founding inspiration for his life's work. 3 years after completing his M.F.A. in printmaking at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1977, Page joined the faculty at in the Department of Art at AAP and eventually saw his printmaking practice, and his approach to teaching drawing and printmaking and dovetail with his interest in the natural sciences. Over decades, he has pursued a number of productive collaborations with experts in departments and units across campus including the Departments of Entomology and Microbiology, and the Cornell Botanic Gardens, Natural Areas, and Plant Pathology Herbarium, among others.
"Collaborating with colleagues in so many disciplines — some dealing with insects, some with the body and the gut, some with fossils, and of course many that work with plants, has been endlessly helpful and inspiring for me and my students. Our work that spans decades now has been undoubtedly beneficial for my art practice, for teaching across disciplinary boundaries, and, for people who enjoy seeing the outcome of an artistic interpretation of nature and the natural sciences," says Page.
From 2002 to 2007, Page collected specimens, advanced his printmaking technique, and developed a visual language that integrated plants and gardens, and lithography. In 2007, Page presented his unique process and discussed his work at the annual Frontiers in Printmaking Conference at the Normal Editions Workshop, where he would later build upon his series of prints as the Normal Editions 2013 artist-in-residence. In addition to his residency that year, Page expanded the reach of his research and traveled for the first time to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh, Scotland for specimen collection, and worked in collaboration with Alastair Clark, assistant director of the Edinburgh Printmakers Studio.
Upon return from his work abroad Page installed the first of two Motifs from the Global Backyard exhibitions in the Bibliowicz Family Gallery in spring 2013. The show featured lithographs created from specimens collected both from Edinburgh, the Cornell Botanic Gardens, and from his backyard where he tends to an expansive range of perennials, trees, and vegetables.
In 2019, Page traveled while on sabbatical to Ireland to collect specimens from the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin. He also visited Black Church Print Studio where he worked with Director David McGinn, again expanding his body of work with many of the prints featured in Motifs from the Global Backyard II.
When possible, Page intends to return Edinburgh and Dublin as well as a number of other locations to continue "working with this technique as an art form and mode of personal expression that forms a distinct relationship, like fossils, between plants and their documentation over time," said Page. "I plan to continue to learn and see that my printmaking practice and work emphasize the importance of sustainability and regeneration both in art and life."
Over the length of his career, Page has exhibited widely in the U.S. and internationally. Beyond his role as a member of the art faculty teaching printmaking and drawing, Page was also a member of the Southern Graphics Council for many years. He is a founding member of the Ink Shop Printmaking Center/Olive Branch Press in Ithaca, New York.
Greg Page would also like to expressly thank the following people for their support and generosity in collaboration: Warren D. Allmon, Michael Ashkin, George Bartko, Missy Bidwell, Todd Bittner, Hazel Burke, Jessica Chambers, Emily Detrick, Robert Dirig, Richard Finch, Felicity Gaffney, Lindsey Glover, Laura Harrington, Rick Hoebeke, Julianne Hunter, Colin Kelleher, Kent Kleinman, Scott LaGreca, Irene Lekstutis, Ruth Ley, Christina Leung, David McGinn, Diane Miske, Lyn Pohl, Emily Pratt, Veda Rives, Pam Shade, Michelle Sinnigen, Phil Syphrit, Linda Rayor, Mark Whitmore, and Meejn Yoon. As well as the AAP gallery committee and the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art; and his wife and daughter, Barbara Rauschenbach and Sarah Page.
By Edith Fikes