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Etchings on the Life Of Francis at SBU

ALLEGANY, N.Y.-The Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts at St. Bonaventure University has begun displaying etchings by James Munce that are based on the story of Francis’s restoration of the Church of San Damiano. Telling Tales: the Franciscan Storytelling Art of James Munce opened May 16.

Munce received his bachelor’s degree in printmaking from the Minneapolis School of Art in 1966, and completed his master’s degree in printmaking at Indiana University in 1971. He has long been a professor in printmaking at Kansas State University. For the past 30 years, Munce has devoted his professional life to making prints, primarily of subjects from Christian literature.

Working with the intaglio printmaking process, Munce thinks of himself primarily as a storyteller. “My function as a visual artist is to create a two-dimensional formal structure that will best contain the story being told,” Munce notes.

Munce’s first works based on the life of Francis were inspired by Nikos Kazantzakis’s 1962 novel God’s Pauper: St. Francis of Assisi. That artistic project concluded with a series based on St. Francis’s beginning, his restoration of the church at San Damiano. The San Damiano series makes up the Telling Tales exhibition.

Munce’s images in this series are built around basic contrasts: simplicity/complexity, clarity/obscurity, large/small, dark/light, organic/geometric. The intaglio process used to create the works perfectly suits Munce’s artistic purposes. As he notes, “The possibility of developing the plate through many additive and reductive modifications often allows the image to mature beyond its original conception, while the physical reworking of the copper usually results in an increased visual richness.” Additionally, the majority of the works were created with multiple plates. The technical virtuosity of Munce is readily apparent in all his prints.

Telling Tales: The Franciscan Storytelling Art of James Munce remains on view through Oct. 22. Admission to the galleries is always free, and the exhibit is available for viewing whenever the center is open.