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Sylvie Covey: An artist’s journey through beauty

BY STEPHEN DiLAURO | Sylvie Covey came to Manhattan in late 1977 as a young hippie artist, after vagabonding around the world. That sort of thing was somehow much more acceptable and doable in those days.

She had studied printmaking at École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, France, which is the city of her birth. Through friends from the Mediterranean island of Ibiza, she found a loft just off Times Square, which she still occupies and maintains as her Manhattan residence and print studio. A widow, she also spends time on her farm in Upstate New York.

(Courtesy the artist)

Soon after her arrival here, she began to study further at the Art Students League, where she is now a revered teacher of printmaking and its myriad possibilities. She also teaches commercial printmaking at the Fashion Institute of Technology, where she was instrumental in developing the fine arts bachelor’s degree program.

(Courtesy the artist)

Through the years, Covey has achieved the status of an internationally recognized authority in printmaking. She is the author of “Modern Printmaking” (Penguin Random House), which is widely acknowledged as the definitive book on contemporary printmaking techniques.

(Courtesy the artist)

I first met Covey at Cafe Un Deux Trois, my favorite watering hole in the Theater District, which was established in 1977. Covey and I caught up there recently. We follow each other on Instagram and when she posted some of the floral prints she created this spring, I immediately wanted to know more.

I have a thing for flowers — growing them, admiring them and enjoying them in works of art. Maybe my fascination stems from my daily mediation practice or is rooted in my childhood Upstate. (All puns intended.) I also felt a need to emphasize beauty, with all the ongoing nastiness and endless war constantly bombarding us.

(Courtesy the artist)

These new works are monoprints. That means they are one of a kind. Covey explained the process to me. She first paints the images, using watercolors, on mylar. Once this first effort is thoroughly dry, she wets smooth printing paper, blots excess water, and squares it onto the painted mylar. These two elements are placed in her press. The watercolor paints are revivified from the water in the paper, and the pressure from the press completes the transfer. Voila!

Covey invites inquiries by e-mail at sylvie@sylviecovey.com or through her Web site, www.sylviecovey.com, where more information on her and her art is available.

DiLauro is a playwright and critic. His Bohemian Times Gazette can be found at bohemiantimes.substack.com.

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