Seeing the Unseen

An exhibition by Christopher Forsythe
On view June 29 - August 2, 2015

Exhibition Statement

Sight is one of the senses humans use to perceiving the world. It helps us navigate our environment, find safety and avoid danger. Sight can be used to accurately render a drawing or to recognize nuance in a form. It can also be used in more dynamic ways to parse the complicated social systems and customs that build our societies.

Despite all that we can see, we are inundated with what we cannot.This inability to see can be categorized into two groups: items which possess characteristics that are beyond our eye’s physical capacity of perception (e.g. microscopic objects, energy, etc.) and items whose exact presence goes unnoticed due to our mind’s conditioning from repeated exposure (e.g. glass in a window frame or halftone dots that form a printed picture).

Through the use of special instruments or awareness raising techniques these invisible objects can be brought to light.Artists and their art have often played important roles in society by revealing things that go unnoticed and making them plain to see for all. These revelations can be as simple as capturing the beauty of a natural landscape

or as controversial as portraying the impact of religion, gender or oppression in our communities.

My most recent set of prints investigate “seeing the unseen” by meditating on the minutiae and microscopic organisms that permeate our surroundings yet escape our attention. By utilizing handmade paper’s tactile qualities, juxtaposing seemingly dissimilar objects and the use of bold and often times unnatural color, I have attempted to create a space where items of different scales can exist side by side so we can revel in their wonder, discover visual similarities between objects and plainly see them with our own eyes.

The source material for this set of prints comes from science literature and printing history. I have always found science to be a fascinating subject. Photographs of natural phenomena, the cosmos, and the microscopic have always been of interest to me. The printing trades and their history are an equally rich subject. Registration marks, star targets, and methods of conveying tone all make their way into my prints. I enjoy how both sources, however disparate, are so unfamiliar when viewed up close that they read less like physical objects and more like abstract compositions.The items I have chosen to feature in my prints are largely symbolic of the greater theme of seeing. Atoms, bacteria, and fibers are all things that cannot be seen with our unaided eyes. Printers’ marks are used to reveal minute changes in the performance of printing presses. And halftones, line engravings and bitmaps are all graphic methods for creating the illusion of continuous tone. While the halftone marks are small, they usually are still clearly visible to the naked eye, yet we have been trained to look past these marks to mentally build the image they are meant to construct.The way in which the halftones dots interact and overlap one another are strikingly similar to the atomic structure of various minerals or the chaotic proliferation of microorganisms.When looking into the center of these arrangements, elements appear and disappear within the amalgamation; it is difficult not to imagine a hidden universe within these systematic patterns.

About the Artist

With an abiding interest in the book arts and design, Christopher (Chuck) Forsythe has immersed himself in all things printing since earning a B.A in Studio Art from Colorado College in 2003. He has served as coordinator and printer at The Press at Colorado College, a fine book publisher; as a letterpress printer at the Minneapolis- based design and print workspace, Studio on Fire; and as a bookbinder at Bookmobile, a digital print on demand bindery. In addition Chuck has been a member of the High Point Center for Printmaking cooperative; The Minnesota Center for the Book; and the Minneapolis based bibliographic society,The Ampersand Club. In 2012 Chuck earned his MFA in printmaking from the University of Iowa where he currently serves as the Instructional Service Specialist for the Printmaking Area. Chuck makes his home in south Iowa City where he lives with wife and son.

For sale inquiries, please contact contact Sarika Sugla, Gallery Curator, via email at

Copyright is reserved by the artist.