Anthony Viscardi: Spaces Between Art and Architecture

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“Liberating architecture from the practical constraints of building, American artist Anthony Viscardi examines the space between art and architecture through explorations of solid/void, presence/absence, static/dynamic, and material/ephemeral continuums. Trained as an architect, Viscardi uses drawing, a practice common to both art and architecture, respectively, to employ Rapidograph, ink wash, and graphite to reveal intricately detailed examinations of shadow and void. These shadow mappings have been the basis of the artist’s twenty-year practice and pedagogy, and most recently, the subject of a compelling exhibition titled Anthony Viscardi: Tracing Time To Measure Space, at Lehigh University Art Galleries in fall of 2013, which articulates the artist’s process through drawings and three-dimensional constructions.”
Domus Magazine. Anthony Viscardi: Tracing Time to Measure Space by Danielle Rago.  September 25, 2013.  

The practice of engaging the shadow as the progenitor of form has directed my architectural scholarship and artistic investigations for over twenty years.  The shadow is born of one thing yet reveals another as its transparent and immaterial essence animates the surface upon which it falls. It is this phenomenological quality of the shadow, once severed from the object that ignites my imagination and informs my creative process.  

The work of my most recent exhibition, “Prints of Darkness, Shadow Cast Impressions” derives from a series of drawings, Tracing Time to Measure Space, in which I record the passage of time at three intervals—morning, noon and night—by sequentially tracing the shadow of an architectural object as it is constructed in one day’s time.   The object is then dismantled, releasing the shadow to exist as a singular composite drawing of individual moments frozen into a single image, a “shadow map,” from which new iterations of the shadow may be formed.   In this process, I use pencil on Mylar and purposely allow my hand to smear the graphite.  Sections of the drawing are then erased to articulate highlights against the complex pencil wire frame.  The resulting palimpsest retains the evidence of the process while revealing something new. 

When anticipating my 2013-14 artist’s residency at the Experimental Printmaking Institute (EPI), I was concerned about how I might express the ephemeral effect of the graphite “smear” via the techniques of printmaking.  With great insight, Professor Curley Holton suggested that my focus should be with finding the “smear” that is inherent to the printmaking process, rather than seeking to replicate the effect of the smear.  And so, in collaboration with Jase Clark, EPI Master Printer in Training, I began to conceive the potential of the printmaking process as a means of reflecting or re-casting my shadow drawings.

In this exhibition at The Williams Art Center in Easton, PA, the latent image of the shadow revealed in my drawings assumes new substance and form, translated through a variety of printmaking methods, including calligraphy, etching, silkscreen, viscosity, embossing, template airbrush, and laser cutting. Whereas my shadow drawings are projections of their objects, my prints became their inverse or reflection, shadow cast impressions, Prints of Darkness. 

Urban Mimic

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About Anthony Viscardi

Professor Viscardi began work at Lehigh University’s College of Arts and Sciences Department of Art and Architecture in 1992 and was awarded Full Professor in 2007. Under his tenure as Chair, 2002-2010, the Department of Art and Architecture was expanded to include the Design Arts program. Viscardi earned his Bachelor of Architecture from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and a Masters of Architecture from Georgia Institute of Technology. He co-founded Hoss/Viscardi & Co. Architectural Design Firm in Atlanta, where he served as Partner and Principal Designer from 1979 until 1992.

Professor Viscardi is a nationally and internationally known scholar-teacher in the design and art of architecture. He has a special interest in study abroad and established the Lehigh in Italy Summer Program in Vicenza in 1995 and serves as its director. There he teaches his students about Italian public places through sketching as well as, studies the work of the Italian architect, Carlo Scarpa, which has been a topic of Viscardi’s research for over 20 years.  He has conducted design workshops and presentations at institutions of higher learning in Canada, Malaysia, Europe, Brazil, and Puerto Rico and most recently was invited to teach a month-long creative design workshop for forty professional architects at the Beijing Victory Star firm. Viscardi also served as Co-Principal Investigator during the first two years of the Henry Luce Foundation funded Chinese Bridge Project (2009-2011) that took Lehigh students on two summer study tours in China and led to the construction of a 12th century style Chinese bridge on campus.

Throughout his career in architectural practice and as a professor of architecture, Viscardi has continued to work as an artist. He has had solo exhibitions at the Atlanta College of Art, Lehigh University Wilson Gallery, and Gallery 164 in Buffalo, NY, and has exhibited at Nexus Contemporary Art in Atlanta, Philadelphia University of the Arts, Philadelphia Third Street Art Gallery, Auburn University Frank Seltzer Gallery, Allentown Art Museum, and Banana Factory Center for the Arts in Bethlehem, PA. Viscardi’s work has been exhibited widely at national and international academic conferences. He developed a particular interest in creative collaboration while working with Italian artist Michelangelo Pistoletto during his three-month residency in Atlanta. He has since engaged in a number of collaborative design-build projects with artists, architects, students, and community members. Viscardi is represented in the NYC Drawing Center curated Artist Registry.

3 was begun during Anthony Viscardi’s 2011-2012 sabbatical when he was awarded a MacDowell Colony Fellowship to continue his theoretical drawing/visual investigations on “shadow mapping.” He has since received the 2013 Faculty Fellowship award from Study Abroad Italy (SAI) in Florence to begin work on a manuscript that documents a drawing method he developed for teaching students to more closely observe the architecture and culture of Italy. Viscardi was the Artist in Residence for The Experimental Printmaking Institute at Lafayette College in Easton, PA for the 2013-2014 academic year.  In spring of 2014 he had a solo exhibition called “Prints of Darkness…shadow cast impressions” at Lafayette’s Williams Art Center.  The work was a product of his shadow casts impressions viewed through the portal of printmaking.