Marian McLaughlin, Staff Writer

“The house serves as the portal to metaphors of the imagination,” said Jon Stilgoe in reference to Gaston Bachelard’s philosophers on architecture. This same idea is reflected in Peter Marcus’s work, as seen this month in the Fine Arts Gallery on campus.

Marcus, a printmaker whose style is anything but limited, has a series of collaged collagraphs on display alongside the colossal, assembled sculptures of Joan Hall.

Together, the two create elaborate, large scale structures that encompass a variety of printmaking techniques. Whereas Marcus dabbles by marrying digital images with intaglio ink, Hall uses handmade paper and pulp to create emerging, organic images.

Houses are the dominant subject matter in Marcus’s prints. His canvases, often times longer than 10 feet, are homes for homes.

Growing up in St. Louis, Mo. and Jamestown, R.I., Marcus recreates the imagery and unique architecture from these towns through his work. Yet, there is something slightly off-kilter about his representations. Although they are realistic and drawn to scale with punctual perspective, these houses seem to be situated in a surreal scenario.

Perhaps this feeling is due to the lack of boundaries, roads and other elements that create ideal neighborhoods and real estate properties. Some of his prints have sparse vegetation or small strips of lawn but, for the most part, these expansive houses float in the open space of a bleak, dripping gray background.

Then the viewer begins to question: are these homes real or figments of the imagination? It is known that these structures are based on actual models, but these replicas only resonate from Marcus’s mind.

And with his mark and style, Marcus adds even more character and dimension to these homes. He cuts away at certain angles in the roofs of the digital image, allowing the intaglio ink to pop out and become a highlighted feature.

In some of the houses, he removes the windows, leaving stark white space. Other windows show snippets of houses, which creates a “picture-in-picture” effect; a home in a home. How is this possible?

Houses are supposed to hold people, not other houses. But here, windows serve as teasing thresholds, allowing perspective from the outside in, or vice versa.

Here, they are blank and ghost-like, except for the select few which show miniature features of homes, turning the main subject into a series of nesting dolls almost.

These houses become containers and, through the small snippets of windows, viewers will only grab a sneak peak of the inner content.

What else do these homes contain? Are they abandoned or inhabited? Are they furnished or sparse? It is difficult to focus on the immense interior and ideas of intimacy when these prints have a stronger emphasis on the outer structure.

As viewers, however, Marcus’s audience has the ability to look closer, guided by his mark-making, to only imagine so much more.