The Print Center

Rita Maas

Working directly with headlines from The New York Times as her subject, Rita Maas interrogates our daily engagement with the news and its lingering effect on consciousness. She simultaneously calls attention to and disrupts the structure and order inherent to the front pages. Working with a system of self-imposed rules that govern her mark making, Maas closely examines the typography and language of headlines. Her process includes digitally excerpting fragments of text, printing them onto the uncoated (back) of photo rag paper, which is then hand-inked. The coated front of the paper resists the ink, and a leakage or blur appears on its surface. This fading and breaking down of language is akin to printer errors, as when toner or ink need to be replaced. Maas reclaims ink from used inkjet cartridges, highlighting the potential of their residue. These prints exist between photography and printmaking, the machine and the hand – a hybrid space where the blur of language and gestural marks stand in for our daily encounters with information overload.  

In July 23 – July 30, 2020 from the series “Today I Got Up”, the viewer encounters a ghostly presence of red-orange curvilinear lines drooping over five black vertical lines indicating the columnar space of articles. These shapes refer to graphs reporting on COVID-19 statistics. The faint line structure of columns and the evidence of statistical graphs register on the page like a fading tattoo. Maas creates ephemeral images that hover between drawing and photography, printmaking and language. Her titles bear the dates of front pages from which they were taken , grounding everyday experience in the absorption of the news. Maas focuses our gaze on how we read, filter and retain information, exposing the locus where slippage and illegibility often happen.   

-LB

Artist Biography