Why Ed Pien collaborated with the Atlantic Ocean to make his ghostly new print
'Water is political and it hits back as well. If we poison it, we get poisoned'
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:
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 Editions, on view at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia until April 26, 2020.