Good news from Mexico! Our shipment of 28 prints arrived safely in Oaxaca, Mexico from Kutztown, PA. The self-portraits in a wide variety of media (including woodblock, etching, serigraphy, and lithography) will be exhibited at Benito Juarez University in the month of July. The prints are by Kutztown University faculty, students, alumni, and friends.
Sending prints to Oaxaca seems odd, like sending flowers to Longwood Gardens. Oaxaca has a great tradition of printmakers from Rufino Tamayo to Rodolfo Morales. Living artists Damian Flores, Shinzaburo Takeda and the ASARO collective continue the tradition. Oaxaca’s best known printmaker is Francisco Toledo. His IAGO, Institute of Graphic Arts of Oaxaca, is the largest public print collection in all Latin America, and a mecca for printmakers.
The Resurgence of Printmaking in the U.S.
Kutztown’s printmaking studio is part of a bigger picture. In recent years many U.S. universities tossed their printing presses to make way for computer labs. Today there is growing interest in traditional printmaking. Young artists are rediscovering the pride and joy of working with their hands. By the way, for dispatches from the trenches of contemporary printmaking there is no better source than Printeresting, and a Kutztown grad, Jason Urban, is one of the creators of that site.
Fortunately, Kutztown University’s printmaking studio thrives under the leadership of Prof. Evan Summer. Evan has won international acclaim for his etchings. The studio is also equipped for lithography taught by Prof. James Rose. Evan opens the studio to visiting artists whenever he can. In 2011, Cesar Chavez of Oaxaca came to demonstrate Oaxaca-style woodblock printing. Cesar was impressed by the artwork he saw and suggested this exhibition to continue the artistic exchange.
There are prints by KU Professors Evan Summer, James Rose, Miles DeCoster, Kevin McCloskey, and Elaine Cunfer. More are by grads and current students. Pennsylvania is not that different from Oaxaca in one respect. Rare is the artist fortunate enough to make a living from her art. Some KU printmakers are teachers. Others work in shops or offices. Our most recent grads may still be looking for meaningful work. However, all maintain a passion for self-expression through the enduring medium of printmaking. And we are grateful to Cesar Chavez and the Escuela de Bellas Artes, UABJO, for this opportunity to share our art with the people of Oaxaca.
Near Oaxaca? Visit the exhibition at UABJO, University of Benito Juarez Centro Cultural on Avenida Universidad. Opening Reception: Friday July 6, 7pm. Free and open to the public. The exhibition runs to the 19th of July. If you are not in Oaxaca, you can get an idea of the variety and quality of KU prints from the slide show above.