Randy J. Garber


Partial Deafness from early childhood, wear hearing aids, read lips

I grew up watching my father engrave impossibly small images and letters into precious metals.  Bent over his engraving block, intently focused through an eye loop, he looked as if he was praying. I held a special kind of reverence for those tiny lines and the tools he used to make them.  I watched silently, yearning to have such an intimate relationship with altering materials––what seemed like an ecstatic experience of transforming blank metal into something else.

I grew up with serious hearing loss in a fog of unintelligible sounds.  Ironically, in fourth grade I had to give up art class in order to learn lip-reading. Now, as an artist, I transform my diminished auditory capacity into a visual experience through the alchemy of intaglio printmaking. It is a process that gives me the chance to make those lines in metal that I once coveted; I translate the experience of hearing loss into visual language in order to convey the unpredictability of communication.

My deafness was the result of the high fevers I suffered from a childhood illness. My burned and destroyed auditory nerve cells distort sounds and words; I require considerable repetition in order to decipher language. To express this in my art, I cut, carve and gouge my intaglio plates with acid and by hand, to burn and maim the copper.  Once inking and printing onto paper begins, I run the plates through the press repeatedly, to produce layer upon layer of information; alone each is incomplete--together they form a whole.

In both my two and three-dimensional work I try to connect viewers to a world in which they are prompted to become hyper-aware of the precarious processes of interpreting information.  After 15 years of conventional printmaking on paper, I began to use the copper plates— etched, inked, open-bit and eroded —to make large installation environments. Utlizing materials in this way reveals the elemental and vulnerable experience of creating this personal work.  Meticulous, small marks, glyphs and shadows are visual echoes that invite viewers to come closer. By constructing, deconstructing and reconstructing materials and language, my art questions the multiple layering and pitfalls of visual meaning.

Reverberations - Installation mixed media Listening: Transmit Listening: Transmit (detail) Listening: Receive (detail) dimensions variable
installation view

dimensions variable
Listening: Transmit
120" x 48"
Listening: Transmit (detail)
120" x 48"
Listening: Receive

dimensions variable
Listening: Connect (detail) dimensions variable Merck Manual The Wonder of it All intaglio, aquatint, etching, dry point, engraving 22x16in. Reap What You Sow intaglio, aquatint, etching, dry point, engraving 22x16in.
Listening: Connect
mixed media
dimensions variable
Merck Manual
paper, jute and table
15' x 40"
The Wonder of it All
intaglio, aquatint, etching, dry point, engraving print
22" x 16"40" x 50"
intaglio, aquatint, etching, dry point, engraving print
22" x 16"