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Joseph Scheer - Moth Scrolls

In collaboration with the Institute for Electronic Arts, New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University

On View Friday, May 10–Sunday, October 27, 2019

A journey into artwork created by innovative printmaking synthesized with ancient Chinese tradition where images of moths are digitally transferred to precious Xuan paper on 198 x 38 scrolls mounted on silk.

Joseph Scheer, professor of print media and co-director/founder of the Institute for Electronic Arts (IEA), participates in an ongoing project with Wuhan University, Wuhan, Hubei, China. As a visiting artist, lecturer, researcher, Scheer has made more than 30 trips where he also studied and collected Xuan papers in Jingxian, Ahui Province, China. More than 400 workshops/factories in the surrounding areas of Jingxian continue to make a large assortment relatively unknown and inaccessible, especially in the United States. 

“The IEA has been testing these materials and providing visiting artists at Alfred University with the opportunity to experiment,” said Scheer. Dating back to the Tang dynasty, Xuan paper is renowned for being soft and fine textured, suitable for conveying the artistic expression of both Chinese calligraphy and painting. “Many of these papers work well for printing on with archival digital ink jet printers,” he said.

Scheer’s research advanced to explore making scrolls; the ancient book form used throughout Chinese history for both text and images. 

The moths were selected from Imaging Biodiversity, a body of work created at Scheer's studio consisting of prints and video produced over the past two decades. “It is about seeing the things that live on our planet in a particular intense way,” explains Scheer. “This happens by using extreme resolution, extended focus and enlargements through scanning and HD Video that are the critical technical elements of my working process. Most of the moths come from Sonora Mexico with a few species from Western New York. Family or genera on each scroll organize them.” A beautiful patterned rich blue silk was chosen along with a Cloud Dragon signature paper at the beginning and end of each scroll.

Xuan Paper is translucent, thin and appears fragile—much like a moth’s wing,” said Scheer. “It’s a challenge to print such high-resolution images on this kind of paper but the end results are much preferred over the chemically coated flaw-free machined papers that are more frequently available.”

About the Institute of Electronic Arts

 In 2013, the Burchfield Penney and the Institute for Electronic Arts (IEA), New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University formed a partnership creating re-occurring exhibitions and presentations to harness a standard of excellence in interpreting the media arts worldwide. The Institute for Electronic Arts is dedicated to the integration of electronic media within the fine arts disciplines.  It achieves this through a focus on art making, research, and education. In recognition of this integration, the Institute for Electronic Arts develops working partnerships with industry and other organizations.

To identify the needs of contemporary artists, the Institute supports evolving electronic studio research labs, hosts national and international conferences, and establishes artists’ residencies and workshops. The Institute for Electronic Arts encourages and supports projects that involve interactive multi-media, distance communication systems, experimental music/video environments, and publications. The Institute for Electronic Arts is dedicated to the global interactions of technological experimentation and artistic investigations.

About Joseph Scheer Co-Director- Institute for Electronic Arts at Alfred University

Joseph Scheer is a Fulbright Scholar, Professor of Print Media, and Co-Director/Founder of the Institute for Electronic Arts at the School of Art and Design, Alfred University, New York. He has recently been elected Vice President of the International Academic Printmaking Alliance (IAPA) whose headquarters are in Beijing China. He has served as a panelist for the Fulbright Scholar Program for Mexico and Central America 2015 - 2017. He has also been a panelist for the NYFA print and drawing grants. He received an MFA from the University of New Mexico in 1987.

His current works, which span print media, video, and web based projects, use technology to re-examine nature through interpretive collecting and visual recording. His work is in numerous international collections. This past summer a large selection of his work were featured in: China’s First Printmaking Festival and Exhibition, Guanlan Museum of Printmaking, Guanlan, China and the POP Gallery, Queensland College of Art, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia. Other recent exhibitions have taken place at The Yantai Museum of Art, Yantai, China the National Museum of China, Beijing, and T+H gallery Boston, MA. A recent show that traveled to four major museums in Sweden was comprised of 100 large format prints.

He has been invited to be a visiting artist lecturer over 70 times in locations spanning Europe, China, Australia, New Zealand and the United states. This past year includes: Tsinghua University, Beijing, University of New South Wales, Australia, Jilin College of Art, Changchun, China and the Central Academy of Fine arts in Beijing.

There are two notable books published about his work: Night Visions, the Secret Designs of Moths Prestel and Night Flyers, Nexus Press. His work has been written about in over 120 books and periodicals including: National Geographic, four articles in the New York Times, ArtNews, ArtForum, Science, Nature, Forbes, American Photo, DERSPIEGEL, and The Chronicle for Higher Education.

Interviews and discussions of his work have appeared on ABC News, The One Show, BBC News, Arts and Minds, of BRAVO TV, and Inside KUAT- TV/PBS, Tucson AZ. He has appeared on NPR in 8 locations across the country including; Fresh Air, NPR interview by Terry Gross and on a live one hour program, Of Moths and Myth, the connection – Hosted by Dick Gordon, WBUR Boston.