Mitch Mitchell
By Sarah Fillmore

Mitch Mitchell is a student of history. He’s a scholar, but also a practitioner of his studies. His interests are wide ranging and probing, and his surveys of the past are made present and immediate in his work.

Using print media as his constant language, Mitchell tests the limits of its fluency, never content to remain long on familiar ground. He takes great risks and insists, through large scale installations such as Distance Arc, that printed matter matters, and that it is virtually unbounded, and certainly not tied to the dimensions of a piece of paper or the size of a press bed.

Mitchell employs traditional techniques, working with, and mastering, age-old printing methods: etching, photogravure, intaglio, and silkscreen, Mitchell builds from these, updating and challenging each to yield to his vision. His work takes liberties with tradition, and through these he pulls “print” into sculpture, performance and film.

Print’s idiom in the hands of Mitchell is the language of the West, of cowboys and tin men, of settlers and the working class. It’s of the East too, of everyman, of the rise of the American dream, and of the sacrifices made along the way to achieve that way of life.

Mitchell’s practice is built on his strength of spirit, body and mind. Not content to merely master printing techniques, Mitchell pulls print off the wall and into the centre of the room. He pushes to fill space, making large-scale sculptural work, intervening in warehouses and gallery spaces and ultimately seeing his prints as architecture themselves. His vision is matched by his indomitable will. He doesn’t rest until that vision is made tangible. It would not be misplaced to draw a connection to American folk hero, John Henry, a steel-driving man with an unbeatable human spirit. Mitchell uses print to tell his story, his history. He pays homage to hard work. His love of the medium, his chosen medium, is evident, and his innovative approach to the medium and his evocative use of and interpretation of history through the art of printing, gives voice to the unsung workers of our industrial past and present.

Sarah Fillmore is the Chief Curator at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and the Head Curator of Canada’s Sobey Art Award. She has curated numerous solo and group exhibitions including the travelling retrospective exhibition by Canadian Abstract painter Jacques Hurtubise, realist painter Mary Pratt, Lisa Liption: Stop @ Forever and an upcoming solo exhibition by Graeme Patterson. Group exhibitions include SKIN: The Art of Seduction, Canadian Pioneers, The Last Frontier and the annual Sobey Art Award. Sarah is also curating an upcoming solo exhibition of recent work by Mitch Mitchell at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.