This July the Plainsboro Library Gallery presents artist books and works on paper by award-winning artist and Plainsboro resident, Maria G. Pisano. The exhibit runs July 2 – 31, and an art reception will be held on Sunday, July 14, 2-4 pm, with the artist on hand to speak about her work.

Ms. Pisano’s prints are a combination of collagraph plates and/or monotypes. Her artist books combine a variety of expressive forms, including drawing, painting, print and printmaking media, papermaking, text, and book design, making the book structure a complex and unique form of expression. The book t itled “Color of Memory” (attached) was created with laser cut woodblock and collograph plates, and relief printed. It is housed in a box made from cherry wood with laser cut title and designs. Per the artist, it “presents four environments, Primavera, Estate, Autunno and lnverno, with accompanying poems, tracing the natural patterns of the seasons. Each season is a marker, beginning with Primavera, a time of discovery and self-awareness and ending with lnverno, a time of fragility, loss and death.”

Ms. Pisano describes both the medium and her artistic viewpoint:

My art is colored with memories and the places I’ve lived in. The works in this exhibit – works on paper and artist books — reflect a journey on the various influences and themes recurring in the works, showcasing the constant search and gathering of layers of experiences. The resulting landscape is one of continual flux where colors, patterns, wear and tear, al l speak of time, memory and history. As memories accumulate they are selected, organized and stored within. Accessing these visual echoes, finding these markers I allow imagination to manipulate them.

My principal mode of expression is through printmaking and the artist book, which are published under the Memory Press imprint. As a book artist I am continuing the tradition of books as keepers of our collective memory, using the format, in its myriad transformative powers, to express and reflect my world. As an artist I bring forth works that respond to a theme through structure as well as text and image. My book works may seem to challenge the traditional form that we are familiar with today, but if one looks at the long history of the book, these storehouses of knowledge were and are varied in materials and structure in every culture.

Artists books are all encompassing in that they synthesize the fields of drawing, painting, print and printmaking media, papermaking, text, book design and any other creative venue, be it written or graphic. The book structure in its many creative outlets can be used to bring together all other fine arts components into a unique mode of expression. Book arts can combine the old and the new; from papermaking to computers, and as an expressive form can be used across disciplines.

My prints are a combination of collagraph plates and/or monotypes. Collagraphs can be printed both intaglio and relief, allowing the versatility of printing numerous colors in one pass, with the use of stencils, pochoir, brayers and/or inking a la poupee. One can achieve very fine detailed lines in the plates using diverse cutting tools. Monotypes are unique hand printed works without a matrix. In my work I use hand cut stencils, multicolor inking with multiple passes, direct drawing through an inked page, collage and the use of offset image – all printed on an etching press.

Maria G. Pisano is a book artist, printmaker, curator and educator. Memory Press works are represented in The Library of Congress, Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia University, Lafayette College, University of Vermont, Wesleyan University, 9/11 Memorial Museum and more. Over the years she has had solo exhibits alongside numerous group shows here and abroad. She has curated a number of exhibits, the most recent “Book as Witness: The Artist’s Response” at the Center for Book Arts in NYC. Ms. Pisano contributes to book arts publications and has given illustrated lectures at the Library of Congress, College Book Arts Association and the Art Libraries Society of North America. Her article “Mark To Impress” was published in The 2018 Journal of the California Society of Printmakers. Additionally she continuously gives workshops nationally and internationally and this year she was invited to present at Bridwell Library, Dallas TX, Center for Book Arts in NYC and other venues.

The Plainsboro Library is located at 9 Van Doren Street, Plainsboro, NJ. Hours are 10-8:30 Monday – Thursday, and 10-5 Friday – Sunday. For more information, call 609-275-2897.


Donna Senopoulos
Plainsboro Public Library