Exhibitionists·Print's Not Dead

Why Ed Pien collaborated with the Atlantic Ocean to make his ghostly new print

In making his new print for NSCAD's famed lithography workshop, Ed Pien looked to the wolffish, the Atlantic Ocean...and ghosts.

'Water is political and it hits back as well. If we poison it, we get poisoned'

Ed Pien's The Hungry Sea. (Ed Pien)

Eight Canadian artists have returned to the famed lithography workshop at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, to work with a master and create some fresh prints. Print's Not Dead follows these artists through the process — how they're making their works and the thinking that informed them.

Ed Pien's drawings almost always have an eerieness to them. Sometimes it's predatory, sometimes folkloric. But creatures permeate most of his work, hiding in the dense lines or emerging from a sort of fog — if you can't see them, their presence is still lurking.

As one of the eight artists that returned to the renowned lithography workshop at NSCAD (Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University) to continue the school's legacy of printmaking, Pien brought his love of drawing with him. But as you'll see in this video made by Marcia Connolly, he wanted to add an extra element — collaboration with the Atlantic Ocean. He says of the experiments that resulted: "I thought the most obvious thing I could do is actually to use ocean water and see how it would participate in realizing drawings. In this case, it's participating by leaving me. Ghosts are kind of traces of something — some energy, some entity — and here, water has actually disappeared, evaporated, has gone elsewhere leaving a residual."

Watch the video:

Print's Not Dead: Ed Pien at NSCAD's lithography workshop

4 years ago
Duration 5:14
Featured VideoEd Pien explains how the Atlantic Ocean, a wolffish and the freedom of drawing came together in a new print. Filmmaker: Marcia Connolly

The finished print — The Hungry Sea — features a predatory (and incredibly endangered) sea creature called a wolffish. And along with the physical mark left by the ocean, the print references climate change, vulnerability and ghosts. 

This video is part of a new CBC Arts series called Print's Not Dead documenting eight artists working in NSCAD's lithography workshop in the present day — stay tuned for more to come. You can see the exhibition of these artists' works at NSCAD Lithography Workshop: Contemporary Editionson view at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia until April 26, 2020.

Ed Pien working on The Lonely Sea. (CBC Arts)

Find out more about the NSCAD Lithography Workshop and explore the works that have come out of it since 1969 here. And you can find out more about Ed Pien here

Stream CBC Arts: Exhibitionists or catch it on CBC Television Friday nights at 11:30pm (12am NT) and Sundays at 3:30pm (4pm NT). Watch more videos here.


Lise Hosein is a producer at CBC Arts. Before that, she was an arts reporter at JazzFM 91, an interview producer at George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight and a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto. When she's not at her CBC Arts desk she's sometimes an art history instructor and is always quite terrified of bees.