With poems, prints and painting, Shawn M. Lockhart shows off her talents at a solo exhibit opening tomorrow at the Carroll County Arts Council gallery in Westminster.
Many in the local arts community know Lockhart, who signs her work "Mara," for her stark black-and-white prints. But, the exhibit will show she is branching out.
For nearly 30 years, Lockhart has called herself a printmaker, an artist who carves original designs into wood and transfers them to paper. Each print is one of a kind. When asked for duplicates, she has to answer that they are "close but not exactly the same."
"Printmakers are in fine-arts limbo, maybe because they can produce their works in multiples," she said. "My work crosses the lines. I have hand-rubbed, limited editions. I do it all, even place them in hand-marbleized mats."
Sandy Oxx, arts council director, calls Lockhart "a solid artist keeping alive an ancient art form. That she carves in reverse, then dips the carving in ink to make her print, gives me great respect for how she creates."
Lockhart has worked hard to educate others about printmaking, frequently demonstrating the technique, said Oxx. Lockhart will detail the process of making a relief print June 21 at the gallery.
"Everyone knows how a painting is done," said Oxx. "But, when you see Shawn's work, you don't understand how she gets there."
Lockhart won the best in show at last year's Art in the Park. With the $100 prize comes an opportunity for an exhibit at the Westminster gallery. Mara, which means "sea" in Gaelic, has given her show a quirky title: "But do you paint then?"
Explaining an art form that dates to the Middle Ages has frequently led to that question, and her answer is a decided "yes." The exhibit will feature several new paintings and a few old ones "to show I have been painting for a while," she said.
"Everyone knows me as a printmaker," said Lockhart. "I didn't switch. I have always painted. It is just that printmaking is my major love."
She will also display poems that she calls "related writings," along with her most recent block prints. The opening will have a harpist and refreshments, prepared by the artist.
The paintings will be a soft contrast to her prints, she said.
"There is a hard edge to printmaking, all black and white, but the paintings are incredibly soft with layers and layers of watercolors," she said. "It is thrilling for me to work in colors."
She is keeping the subject of her paintings secret but said they "reflect a journey I have been on." That means they will reflect her Irish heritage and the annual treks she makes to Ireland, where several of her pieces are in galleries.
That inspiration helps her "hold onto the place and the pace. They still have time there. They don't rush."
In her poem, "returning," she calls her visits to Ireland a gift and a legacy from her great-grandmother:
I have walked the timeless sod.
I have touched the ancient stones
And my soul remembers.
She plans to take up residence in the homeland of her ancestors.
She has spoken to the Irish Revenue Commission about an artist's exemption from income tax. She detailed her printmaking technique for them, and they deemed her work to be of cultural and artistic merit. Then, they asked, "But, do you paint then?"
"There has been talk of it," she answered.
The show opens with a reception from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. tomorrow and continues through July 14 at 15 E. Main St. Information: 410- 876-8550.