Jo-Anne Bates Goes Beyond Traditional Printmaking

Dynamic and unusual techniques mark the current works of prolific Pittsburgh-based artist and arts educator Jo-Anne Bates. By folding prints to create a look that is more sculptural than flat, and utilizing ink in bold color combinations before topping it all with a shredded junk mail mixture, Bates’s artwork goes beyond traditional printmaking and veers into an entirely new medium.

These creations are best encountered in person: pictures viewed on paper and online do not even scratch the surface of Bates’s depth and impact. The textures allow for movement in the work that changes depending on the closeness and angle of the viewer. Nestled text draws the eye even further.

multicolored artwork created by Jo-Ann Bates
Photo credit Joey Kenny; courtesy of the August Wilson African American Cultural Center

Bates cites a visit to South Africa’s Rainbow Country, a landscape providing vivid colors and texture, as the inspiration for her latest creations. The text stems from her experience as a woman, mother, grandmother, and art teacher.

“This perspective has allowed me as an artist to explore new and different ways of using text, representing that people see, say, and hear,” Bates says in her artist statement. “This is especially true of verbal injustices often directed at young African Americans. My work has often been referred to as philosophical road maps and with these works, I continue in that direction.”

Frame of Reference: Jo-Anne Bates

August Wilson African American Cultural Center, 980 Liberty Avenue, Downtown
Running from March 22 to August 31

Story by Jordan Snowden

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