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“Marks That Make Themself,” an exhibit of works by international painter and sculptor Emil Lukas, is on display through March 27 at the Richard A. and Rissa W. Grossman Gallery in Lafayette’s new Williams Visual Arts Building, 243 North Third Street, downtown Easton. Lukas is an artist-in-residence at Lafayette.

The gallery is open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Lukas will talk about his work at 4 p.m. Friday, March 9, in room 108 of the Williams Center for the Arts, followed by a reception from 6-8 p.m. at the Grossman Gallery. The lecture is free and open to the public.

A resident of nearby Stockertown, Pa., Lukas chose works from the last seven years for the exhibit. They represent one area of interest for the artist — using a diverse range of objects like plaster, potato chips, fish heads, and house flies to produce spontaneously crafted marks in paintings and sculptures.

“The title of the exhibit has to do with a careful selection of work that isolates the idea of trusting nature to make its own marks, or the idea of how things work and allowing that to be the course of mark-making,” Lukas explains.

As part of his residency at Lafayette, Lukas is working with students to produce art in what he calls “a very primitive printing press.”

“We’re making a system of cement blocks, which will all be stacked upon themselves with paper placed in between each block,” he says. “That will be left outside for perhaps three weeks. As the pieces are unstacked, we will take the papers out. That collection will be an edition, and then we will put more paper in and restack the cement column, which will channel water and have different devices inside that stain the paper.”

Water will collect in chambers inside the structure, making marks on papers. “The idea is that we’ll make a series of drawings, bu we’re never going to touch the drawings — we’re not going to do anything to mark the paper other than to sandwich it.”

That same idea is the basis of Lukas’ show. One example is a work called “The Use of Evidence,” which began with a canvas measuring nine by 35 feet. The canvas covered the floor of Lukas’ studio accumulating various marks, such as sparks from the wood burner, paint spills, footprints, and indentations from a garbage can. After six months, Lukas stitched thread through the canvas. The finished work was cut into seven sections. Four sections are in the Lafayette exhibit; the other three were included in a New York City exhibit.

Another work, “Dissemination of Rust,” includes plaster, paper, wood, glass, iron, thread, and the remains of a mushroom. For the top panel, he covered a mushroom on top of ten papers, covering them with a coffee can in his back yard. Moisture from the release of spores in the disintegrating mushroom and condensation transferred rust from the can through the papers. Lukas then stitched through the papers.

“It is now almost accepted among theory-makers that we make our world by our discourse — how we talk about it and see it (the odyssey from Structuralism to Postmodernism) — and Lukas spells this out,” says John Post Lee, Lukas’ art dealer for the past 15 years. “He does this by setting up situations for the materials to describe themselves and reveal their content and nature. And he in turn sets up scenarios for the materials to explore the extent of what they are. His contribution is seeing the possibility, setting up the parameters, and revealing it in a totally forthright way.”

Lukas will be featured in exhibits later this month in Köln, Germany, and Paris. Last year his work was shown in one-person or two-person shows in Bologna, Italy, and New York City. His art has been included in many other exhibitions around the world since 1985, including galleries in Verona, Italy; Rome; Paris; Basel, Switzerland; New York City; San Francisco; Los Angeles; Tampa; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Winston-Salem, N.C.; Kansas City, Mo.; Houston; and many other cities.

Born in Pittsburgh, Lukas received a bachelor’s of fine arts degree in 1986 from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. He spent eight years in New York and Europe before settling down in Stockertown, located several minutes from Lafayette.

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