“Printed, Painted, Potted”: the versatile art of Avis Fleming

At the Torpedo Factory, artists frequently inspire each other to experiment with new techniques and different media, but “Printed, Painted, Potted,” a new exhibition of works by Avis Fleming, sets a high standard for artistic versatility.

Fleming is a member of Printmakers, Inc., the only group studio in the region dedicated to original, hand-pulled prints. She’s worked for many years with Penny Barringer at the Discover Graphics Atelier here in the Torpedo Factory, and she’s taught gestural figure drawing at the Art League School since 1991. Although Fleming’s solo show is hosted by Printmakers, it features not only etchings, lithographs, and monotypes but also paintings and ceramics—and wide-ranging subjects to match.

“Safe Harbor” by Avis Fleming,
intaglio 14″ x 12″

Whether printed, painted, or drawn, Fleming’s art is rooted in her everyday life on her farm in Unison, Virginia. One etching of a litter of border terriers, for example, started as drawings and watercolors, while another series of sketches became a lithograph immortalizing the grackles that nest in Fleming’s boxwood each year and devour her sunflower seeds. “They annoy my husband,” the artist explains, “so I did the drawings to remind him of how beautiful the birds are—if noisy.”

At the same time, “Printed, Painted, Potted” ranges far beyond Virginia, with boats in Maine depicted on the ceramics Fleming makes with her husband, Paul Hodge—thus explaining the “potted” part of the show’s title. Fleming’s further travels serve as rich material for this exhibition, from her Art League sketchbook trips to Ireland and the Czech Republic to visits to her native Louisiana.

“Chebeague Canton,” ceramic bowl

As a teenager, Fleming met Anthony Gross, a masterful English etcher and family friend whose work showed her the possibilities of art. Although she later studied graphic art and illustration at Pratt Institute, she first studied philosophy, so she’s inclined to reflect on her lifelong tendency to move comfortably between media.

“I like drawing and painting the human figure and sketching outdoors: landscapes, seascapes, and animals,” she says. “Translating drawings and paintings into etchings, lithographs, and monotypes gives them a new dimension and an always-surprising new life.”

See “Printed, Painted, Potted” through June 30, 2014, at Printmakers, Inc., at the Torpedo Factory in studio 325. Browse more of Fleming’s art at Printmakers, check out her Art League teaching schedule, and explore her versatile work at her website, avisflemingart.com.

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