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Rochelle Toner - Tying a Knot in a Cherry Stem

  • The Print Center 1614 Latimer Street Philadelphia, PA, 19103 United States (map)

Opening Reception Gallery Talk with the Artists and Curator: Thursday, September 13, 6:00 – 7:30pm

Gallery Talk with the Artists and Curator: Thursday, September 13, 5:30pm

An exhibition of recent abstract watercolor drawings and collages by this masterful Philadelphia printmaker. New works are complemented by a selection of prints as well as items drawn from the artist's idiosyncratic collections.


Rochelle Toner: Tying a Knot in a Cherry Stem is an exhibition of recent, abstract, watercolor drawings and collages by the highly regarded printmaker. Her newer works are complemented by a selection of early prints, as well as items from the artist's idiosyncratic collections of objects from which she draws artistic inspiration. A commissioned essay published in the exhibition brochure, written by independent curator Judith Tannenbaum, discusses Toner's latest projects in respect to her earlier works, exploring themes that reoccur over the decades. Lauren Pakradooni: Static Sliphighlights the work of this emerging artist, whose practice begins with printmaking and expands into sculpture. 


Though Rochelle Toner's work has been included in numerous group exhibitions in the Philadelphia area over the last 40 years, it has not received the critical attention that it merits. Having spent 30 years dedicated to academic service, coupled with the lack of support which women (especially queer women) of her generation received in the art world, much of Toner's extensive body of work remains unexhibited and unknown. While Toner identifies as a printmaker, her current works are watercolors, collages and drawings. The watercolors are diverse, vibrantly-colored organic abstractions, many with linear repeating forms. After many years of making watercolors, the artist has produced two series of collages made from magazine pages. While many of the collages relate visually to the abstracted organic forms of the watercolor drawings, the most recent are composed of the cut-up and reassembled body parts of fashion models. A third body of work included is a series of drawings rendered directly onto plate pages of a 19th century natural history book. The show features more than 40 works from these 3 series, as well as a selection of the artist's previous works, including ambitiously-scaled Surrealist etchings from the early 1970s.


"These watercolor drawings, prints and collages, as well as the other work that I have made over the years, I think of collectively as 'nature, pleasure and innuendo'. I like the way the phrase sounds and I like the sort of sexy allusion. I am fascinated by the way abstraction can evolve from a process of observing, distilling and internalizing information, conscious and subconscious interactions."


To provide deeper insight into Toner's work, several installations of objects and ephemera drawn from her idiosyncratic personal collections are presented. Ranging from a selection of roughly crafted iron shears to groupings of shells and fossils, these objects illuminate many of the underlying ideas with which Toner is concerned. They reflect an ongoing interest in the simultaneous violence and beauty embodied by tools, the ways that some types of labor lead to objects being imbued with a sense of gender, and, her unabashed love for the wonders of the natural world.


"Without planning or specific intention I came to notice that the single most important theme or common denominator in my work was/is the concept of dynamics.

      ...forces and their relation primarily to motion but sometimes also to equilibrium...

      a process of change, growth, or activity...

      variation and contrast in force or intensity"


The exhibition and its accompanying essay by Judith Tannenbaum, who has been familiar with Toner's oeuvre since the 1990s, contextualizes Toner's work within the larger field. Additionally, coinciding with The Print Center's exhibition, a book on Toner's drawings will be published by Temple Contemporary, Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia, authored by Director Robert Blackson.

Earlier Event: September 9
What's My Line
Later Event: September 13
Lauren Pakradooni - Static Slip