The Secret Rooms of Katja Oxman

July 29, 2017 - November 05, 2017

For Katja Oxman, her processes are long and no detail is overlooked. As an aquatint printmaker, Oxman’s tools include such rigidly unforgiving materials as copper plates, acid baths, and etching needles, and yet these tools aid her in achieving remarkably detailed and intricate representations of the items that have been with her for decades.

Oxman’s earlier works (1970-76) depict fictional gardens and lush colors from another world. They represent a stark contrast from the subject matter and style of her work today, but they mark an important developmental period for her work. Her process was slowly bringing her indoors, towards more detailed work and scenes of objects based in reality. This paralleled the changes in her life, and as she grew, so did her family. Tied more to an interior, domestic environment by virtue of raising a family, she was thus moved to reflect on her surroundings.

The items in the prints comprise painstakingly arranged still lifes of her design. Some of the artifacts have been in her possession since her childhood when she first emigrated from Germany to the United States in 1952. Oxman’s assemblages speak in an original, poetic language that is defined by each of the objects spoken to us through her prints. The narrative of each print causes us to reflect and investigate at our own pace and even encourages us, from a bird’s eye view, to learn the secrets of these objects. The prints, then, are secret rooms that create for us a visual chronicle of her life but still allow us to decide for ourselves that they tell us.

Precision, perfection, and meticulous arrangements contrast with the personal objects rendered in warm and calming colors that invite introspection and participation in the tales Oxman tells. Each object plays one small role in the decades-long narrative of the life of Katja Oxman told through each of her prints.

This exhibition is comprised of selections from the major acquisition by FWMoA of prints and printmaking ephemera spanning the career of Katja Oxman.  With this archive, Oxman’s prolific career as an artist will be preserved and shared for generations to come through research, exhibitions, and education.

Katja Oxman, born in 1942 in Munich, Germany, immigrated to the United States at age 9. She attended the venerable Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art from 1962-1965, where she studied printmaking and painting. She continued her studies at the Academy of Munich, Germany and Royal College of Art in London, England.

This exhibition is curated by Josef Zimmerman, Curator of Contemporary Art.

Curator’s Tour: September 7 / 12:15pm / Free with admission
From his specialized and personal point of view, Curator Josef Zimmerman will lead you on a guided tour of this exhibition.