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In this Issue:
 Desire/Shame – An Interview with Lorie Hamermesh
President's Letter
Cuban Connections Made!  Yes, Yes, and More Yes!

 
Detail of USA 2020  carborundum, watercolor, drypoint
 
Desire/Shame                                                      - An Interview with Lorie Hamermesh 
By Peter Scott

This interview is something I’ve wanted to share with the BP Quarterly since Lorie’s exhibit Desire/Shame at Gallery NAGA last September (2021). You can see more of Lorie’s work on her website  and on the NAGA website .


PS  Before your practice as a printmaker, you were a painter. How do you think your painting background informs your work now?

LH  I’ve always been interested in layering of images. In my paintings, I never knew when to stop. I worked and reworked them, covering up hundreds of layers and never sure if a lost layer wasn’t better than the final one. In printmaking, if I don’t like it, I do another one. It is easy to manipulate the sequence of the layers to change the print.

I do have a watercolor layer in each of my monoprints, so I am still painting. The fixed plates can be reused, but I have to do a new watercolor each time, so each print is unique. That’s why they are called monoprints.

PS  So, you find you can unearth the layers as you work?

LH  Yes, with printmaking, but not with painting. In my 2004 show at Gallery NAGA, the images were digitally printed on different media - acetate and sheer fabric - which hung one layer in front of the other. I could separate and interchange the layers and that led to my interest in monoprinting.

The combining of different mark making techniques excites me! Watercolor creates a gentle, uncontrolled, flowing image. I paint watercolor onto a sanded plate, let it dry, then spray to rewet it so it will transfer onto the damp paper when run through my press. Drypoint adds an incised graphic line. I use carborundum when I want powerful, strong marks. Sometimes the medium expresses what I’m trying to say as much as the images.

Every print is an experiment. Every plate is an experiment. I’m not new to printmaking anymore because I’ve been doing it for a lot of years, but I still feel like I’m learning and experimenting with each idea. I had great teachers at the Museum School who taught me many different ways to mark the plates. The ones that seem to suit me are the ones that I use the most. I always try to enhance the meaning through the marks. For my “Desire/Shame” show, most of the figures were done in watercolor, overlain with carborundum hands and dry point drawing.
Anxiety (1)  carborundum, watercolor, drypoint, 30.5 x 29, 2020
PS  Within your work, especially in your solo show at Gallery NAGA, Desire/ Shame, you seem to repeat the same figures but place them in different compositions or spaces. What was your intent?

LH  I found a photo of this young ingenue. It didn’t have anything to do with who she was, but it had to do with her vulnerability. Was she naked or nude? Was she comfortable or embarrassed? I printed hands in front of her, protecting or corrupting her innocence. The first print I pulled, I was like, “Oh my god, I can’t show this to anyone!”

I was shocked and embarrassed! Becoming aware of what was behind these feelings led to unlocking of my block. It felt like I was releasing shame.

PS  How do you mean “releasing” shame?

LH  The sexuality, the fear, or the tarnished innocence were loaded themes for me. Through my therapy, I got in touch with buried childhood trauma that I could not talk about. It turned out that the themes I was unconsciously expressing in the prints were the same I struggled with in my life. Making the prints and learning to talk about them released the shame.
Left, Desire/Shame  carborundum, watercolor, drypoint, 43 x 27, 2021
Right, Me Too (1)  carborundum, watercolor, drypoint, 43 x 27.5,  2021
PS  In your artist talk, you spoke about how the content of  Desire/Shame came about through trauma and your healing process. What about art-making do you find offers healing for you?

LH  I took a very long break in my art making practice. After my last show at NAGA [2004], I just couldn’t get back to work. I felt like I didn’t have ideas. Any time I tried, I shot down my idea. The longer I stayed away, the more averse I became to going to my studio. I would just stay away.

Through making these prints, which really started as part of my therapy, without pressure of ever showing them, I began working again. I trusted the process and one idea led to another. What I learned was that in the past I got too hung up on the audience and selling the work. When I began making work for myself to inform my therapy, that inhibition lifted and the process of making the work became much freer. I learned that I must only make work for me. My prior shows had become too much of a performance for other people. That’s really why I stopped.

I began again. The scary part was that it had been so long since my last show and I was working in a totally different medium. I probably couldn’t have done it had I not had the realization that it didn’t really matter about the audience. In the end it was well received.
Juggling  2019. carborundum, watercolor, drypoint 37 x 28, 2019
Donny. carborundum, watercolor  27x30.5, 2019
PS  Nearly every figure within your work is directly facing or making direct contact with the viewer. How does the gaze impact the viewer’s relationship to the nude figure?

LH  The figure I used was staring right at the viewer in kind of a seductive pose of desire. There was sexuality there, but she also conveyed an openness and innocence at the same time. Then I had this urge to hide or protect her!

PS  Hide or protect, which?

LH  Good question. Are the hands hiding, protecting or invading?  In some prints, the arms don’t line up exactly over the figure. That was an accident. It almost looked like the dress wasn’t on top of her. There was something invoking multiple identities which I liked.

The accidents are always so welcome. I get my best ideas through accidents!

Sometimes I make plates that go together, then shift a plate from a different print and like it better. I stayed consistent in the size of the smaller prints so that I could interchange the plates and the layers. What was underneath and what was on top could change the outcome, both visually and thematically.

PS  Political/social issues are inherent in the Desire-Shame work. This is a two-edged sword, so I will ask you to speak to that.

LH  There was one print that I called  USA 2020. I had been working on a series of prints of a dress, the bodice of a dress, overlain with strong oversized hands anxiously clutching the forearms. I painted the watercolor plate with red and white stripes, letting the drips dry where they fell. As soon as I pulled the print, I saw the American Flag!  2020 was a precarious year with a dishonest president, a deadly pandemic, and horrific racist police brutality. So many women also coming forward, not just women but men too, to speak about sexual abuse. In 2020, those themes were coming together, and I think all my work spoke to them. Especially the bleeding red and white stripes, that reminded me of the flag and the angst in our country. I think  USA 2020 became the most political of all the works.
USA 2020  carborundum, watercolor, drypoint, 30.5x 29, 2020
Under Wraps  watercolor, drypoint, 25 x 20,  2018
The  Desire/Shame theme is not just about sexuality. We were taught, women of my generation, that if you have too much pleasure, you have to pull back. Eating too much dessert isn’t a good thing. There’s always shame connected to seeking pleasure. You end up blocking your own desire because you feel bad about having it.

I was trying to break through that pattern. What I’m working on now is allowing images of fun and frivolity to NOT be blocked, but only slightly contained, letting desire win!

PS  One thing I really enjoyed about your work is the clothing: fashion.

LH  I tried to get away from it, but it keeps coming back. I think I’m attracted to images from the 50’s because that was my mother’s generation. It’s a connection to my mother. I grew up in the 50’s, when women wore dresses and were depicted in ads as the perfect housewife. That resonates with me on an unconscious level. And then there’s the little girl dress, which I think also has something to do with innocence and vulnerability.

PS  The little girl shoes...

LH  Ah, the shoes, not the sexy Louboutins, which I’ve never owned, but are objects of desire. And the little girl shoes, yeah...

PS  So, what are your favorite shoes?

LH  My platforms. The higher the platforms the better. I like to get taller.
Louboutins  carborundum, watercolor  30.25 x 30, 2020
Inner Child. carborundum, watercolor, drypoint,  28 x 31.25,  2020
 
Lorie in her studio
Letter from the President
Elizabeth Rudy, juror of the 2023 North American Print Biennial
Left photo by Schippert and Martin Photography © President & Fellows of Harvard College
Right: hosting at Prints from the Brandywine Workshop and Archives, April 2022
Who is Elizabeth Rudy? She is the Carl A. Weyerhaeuser Associate Curator of Prints at the Harvard Art Museums, where she stewards the collection of roughly 60,000 prints made in Europe and the Americas from the 15th century to the contemporary era. She holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University, and her research focuses on prints of the 18th and 19th centuries, with particular interests in etching, book illustration, and works by the artist Pierre-Paul Prud’hon. She has published widely on prints.
 
With the exhibition States of Play: Prints from Rembrandt to Delsarte (September 2021 – January 2022), Rudy awakened the weary from Covid haze with a comprehensive, behind-the-curtain look at how prints were made by 18 diverse and well-known artists. Somehow a self portrait of 15th century artist Anthony van Dyke felt as fresh and contemporary as Louis Delsarte’s Unity, where Rudy showed the dozen drawings on mylar that Delsarte used to make his layered lithograph at Brandywine (be sure to use the arrows just below the image frame to see the many mylars). A few months later we were treated to Prints from the Brandywine Workshop and Archives (March – July, 2022), where culture, content and community were on display. Again, Rudy revealed layers of complexity in printmaking while empowering students at Harvard to fully engage in the work: meeting the makers, installing and responding. All fully archived on the HAM website for visitors to enjoy.
 
Opening this month is her current exhibition, co-curated with Professor Kristel Smentek of MIT, Dare to Know: Prints and Drawings in the Age of Enlightenment (through January 15, 2023). What will Rudy bring to light with this show? ..the Enlightenment era is an area of her expertise. The HAM webpage teases us to visit this major exhibition by Rudy. “Dare to Know asks new and sometimes uncomfortable questions of the so-called age of reason, inviting visitors to embrace the Enlightenment’s same spirit of inquiry—to investigate, to persuade, and to imagine.” Can’t wait!
 
What will she do next?
 
Elizabeth Rudy will be the 2023 juror of The North American Print Biennial! The Boston Printmakers relies on a juror’s generosity for their time and energy, interest and attention to prints and printmaking, and stamina to get through the entries, awarding of prizes and public presentations. We know she will have what it takes, and cannot wait to see the exhibition she makes for the BU 808 Gallery in October 2023!
 
We encourage everyone to apply, tell fellow printmakers, be a part of The Boston Printmakers 75th Anniversary Year! Full information for the 2023 The North American Print Biennial is available at this LINK.
 
Please take note: For this Biennial, the prospectus states that prints made between 2019–2023 will be allowed since we missed a biennial in 2021. Former rules limited works to be made within the two-year period between biennials. We did not change entry prices or the number of prints that can be entered, even though production costs have risen. Our goal is to empower printmakers in every stage of their careers to submit work and compete to be noticed. That is how it has always been since the first Printmakers exhibition in 1948!
 
Also, for BP@75 we will be gathering information and thoughts on the state of printmaking in North America. We want to know (in advance) of print shows in your area and what you are doing to widen the celebration of prints. Very possibly you may soon be receiving a survey!
 
I want to recognize Peter Scott and Lorie Hamermesh of Boston, MA for a moving interview revealing honest, weighty matters shared by many. Thank you for this well illustrated article.
 
Susan Denniston’s report on The Boston Printmakers exchange with Cuba captures it all–rain, cars, art, friends, camaraderie and hope. It was a wonderful experience, and our wish for BP is to engage more with Cuban printmakers and art organizations in the future. I also want to thank personally the artist-members who donated their works to Las Casas de Las Américas in Havana. Your exhibition was a beautiful centerpiece to share with the Cuban artists, musicians and families we met, and the gift of prints will commemorate the friendships made and inspire many to come. My deep appreciation is for the foresight of Phyllis Ewen and Janette Brossard, whose friendship started this whole adventure.
 
All my best in health and in the studio,
Renee Covalucci, president
Detail of old litho stones at Taller Experimental de Gráfica
 
Cuban Connections Made!
Yes, Yes and More Yes!

 
By Susan Denniston

YES, it was worth the work and worth the wait.

The Connections/Conexiones exchange:  In June 2022, 39 prints by 39 members of Boston Printmakers were exhibited at the Taller Experimental de Gráfica in Havana, Cuba and then accepted into the permanent collection of Las Casas de Las Américas in Havana. In March 2022, 37 prints by 37 Cuban printmakers were exhibited at the Brickbottom Gallery in Somerville, MA and returned to the Cuban artists in June 2022.
 
Connections/Conexiones was in the making for several years – and it was not easy to pull off.
 
Havana printmaker and BP member Janette Brossard proposed the print exchange between Cuban printmakers and The Boston Printmakers in 2018, but the connections really started in 2003 when Phyllis Ewen, an artist and member of The Boston Printmakers, was in Havana for an exhibit.  She and a few others went to the Taller Experimental to see what was happening there.  There she met Norberto Marrero and his wife Janette Brossard, two wonderful people and talented printmakers.  The three became dear friends, seeing each other over the past twenty years in Havana and in the Boston/Cambridge area.
 
Janette is a fabulous organizer and looks for places and people with whom she can collaborate in Cuba and in other countries.
 
In 2018, Janette wrote to Phyllis proposing an exchange of prints and exhibits between The Boston Printmakers and members of the Printmaking section of UNEAC (Unión de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba / Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba) of which she is president. The BP Board’s decision to accept this proposal was an enthusiastic YES.  In October 2019 Janette came to the United States and left us with a well-curated exhibit of 37 Cuban prints and she selected prints from the BP Traveling Flat File to be shown in Cuba.  The title of the two exhibits would be Connections/Conexiones.
 
 
YES, Covid did put a two-year hold on our plans.  But the gears started turning again this spring.  In March the Cuban exhibit was installed at Brickbottom Gallery in Somerville, MA.
 
An exciting exhibit, it was arranged by themes:  Social Thinking, Appropriation of Images, Graphic Abstraction, Power Relationships, Gender Discourse, Zoo Morphology, Imaginary Realism, Poetic Philosophy, Eroticism, and Religiosity.  It has been said all art in Cuba is political and these prints do convey subtle undercurrents of political discourse and commentary about life in Cuba.
 
At the opening reception, it was an honor to have Aliosky Garcia, one of the artists in the exhibit, describe printmaking history in Cuba and talk about a number of prints in the exhibit.
 
 
Aliosky Garcia and his print at Brickbottom
 
Cuban prints in Appropriation section at Brickbottom
In June, Phyllis and three other Boston Printmakers (Renee Covalucci, Sharon Hayes, and myself) headed to Havana with our special challenging-to-obtain cultural visas, prints of Cuban artists, prints of members of BP, and many items to donate, ranging from printmaking supplies to bed sheets, toiletries to medicines, and anything else we thought our hosts might appreciate.
 
Taller Experimental de Gráfica de La Habana, Cuba’s premier printmaking studio, was our primary destination.  The BP prints would hang in their Gallery for several weeks in June.  The prints can be seen here:  Cuba – Traveling Flat File – The Boston Printmakers
 
As we entered the Taller we were warmly greeted by the director, Yamilys Brito Jorge, and by Janette. The Taller is a vibrant, airy, and active working studio in Old Havana, right off of Plaza de la Catedral.  Yamilys is its first woman director. 
Entrance to the Taller Experimental de Gráfica
 
Galeria del Grabado (Gallery of Engravers/Printmakers)
at the front of the Taller (Workshop)

 
Our Greeting Party, from the left: Janette Brossard, Leonardo González and
Guillermo Ramirez Malberti (both members of the Taller), Yamilys Brito, Norberto Marrero

 
As I started to look around, I was hooked on the space, the colors, the presses, the art, the artists, and the adventure.  Look at the metal hooks used to hang dry the prints!  And look at the litho stones with what appear to be images for cigar wrappers!  There is history throughout the studio.  During the early part of the 20th century, cigar bands and cigar box labels were produced using mostly lithographic techniques on limestone imported from Bavaria. This process was gradually abandoned in favor of metal plates which were cheaper and less fragile than the massive stones. Consequently, both the presses and stones fell into disuse. By 1961, many of the stones were used to create barricades in the streets of Havana in anticipation of U.S. invasions, and parts of the large printing presses were being used as agricultural equipment. This destruction of artistic materials with a rich history prompted Cuban artists and also Pablo Neruda to petition Che Guevara (then Minister of Industry) to approve the creation of the Taller Experimental to recover and house the stones and presses for artistic uses.  The Taller opened in 1962 with these historic presses and litho stones to be used once again by Cuban printmakers.  Yamilys has used much-enlarged imagery from the cigar wrappers and boxes in some of her work.
Device with metal hooks to hang prints to dry
 
Old litho stones with images for printing cigar bands
 
Print by Yamilys Brito, Ink Master Series. Spider Web, image: 13.5 x 9
The next day, as the BP prints were being hung in the Gallery, a group of printmaking students and their teachers from the San Alejandro Academy of Fine Arts, along with members of UNEAC, arrived at the Taller to learn about The Boston Printmakers and how our connection with Cuba was made.
 
Phyllis Ewen gave a brief talk in Spanish about her connection with Janette Brossard and how it led to this exchange.  Renee Covalucci gave a slide presentation about the history of The Boston Printmakers and presented our book 60 Years of North American Prints to Yamilys.

Sharon Hayes and Susan Denniston each demonstrated some of their printmaking techniques, with the welcome assistance of  local master printers.  Both demos were well received and generated lots of questions and enthusiasm.

 
Sharon Hayes gives a print demo to students of San Alejandro Academy
 
The next day we saw the same art students in their classrooms at San Alejandro Academy of Fine Arts.  What a treat. We had a further chance to talk with them, see what they were working on, and hear more about how they might use the techniques they saw demonstrated in their ongoing work at school.  We saw their seriousness and camaraderie as they worked together registering prints etc.  And we saw the brewing tropical depression as we departed…
The entrance to San Alejandro Academy of Fine Arts
– with a giant safety pin sculpture on the building

 
Left, academy students assisting each other
Right, a teacher helping a student register paper for screen printing

 
The following day was the opening reception and some rain did fall, but not too much, yet!  There was an amazing violin recital by two young musicians who were then joined by three more young violinists (all about 12-15 years old) – enough to make a parent proud!  The kids are alright!  And, we had heard that if rum were going to be served, there would be dancing.  Well, you guessed it: rum was served, space was cleared, the music was turned on, and the dancing commenced.
The opening reception with student violinists in the Gallery and below,
Renee Covalucci, Cuban artist Ibrahim Miranda, Sharon Hayes, Susan Denniston
YES, the students – artists and musicians – were really great!  Curious, engaged, serious about their studies, friendly, and talented.
 
After riding in a torrential downpour through flooding streets the next day – Havana was being lashed by Tropical Storm Agatha – we arrived, drenched, at Las Casas de Las Américas.  We were welcomed as honored guests while shaking ourselves off.
 
Casas’ Vice President Jaime Gómez Triana and Casas’ Visual Arts Director Silvia Llanes described how meaningful it is to have our work at this Havana institution.   As Jaime said, in Spanish translated into English, it was an honor to welcome our prints into their collection and thanked all of the Boston Printmakers who all donated their prints.  It was very emotional to be sitting here in this hot room, with incomplete life-sized wall paintings of Che Guavara on one wall and a painting of José Martí* on another, welcomed as artists from a country who maintains its embargo and chilly relations with Cuba.  As artists we could engage, share, and support each other despite everything, Jaime said.
 
* José Martí (1853-1895) a Cuban nationalist, poet, philosopher, journalist, professor, and publisher who, starting in the 1920’s, was embraced as a Cuban national hero because of his role in the liberation of Cuba from Spain in 1898.  I felt I saw his image more than the image of Fidel Castro
while walking around.
Our ride to Las Casas through the torrential downpour in a circa 1952 Chevy
 
At Las Casas, with incomplete paintings of Che Guevara,
 Left, Silvia Llanes; center, translator; and right, Jaime Gómez
 
At Las Casas, with painting of José Martí  From the left,:
Susan, Renee, Silvia, Sharon, Phyllis, Jaime, and member of Las Casas

 
One more fabulous experience was the privilege of staying in the home of Fabiola Caratala, a retired English professor and friend of Phyllis who, as required by the Cuban government, is registered  to rent two bedrooms in her house to “tourists”.  We would sit with her around her dining room table and discuss the vicissitudes of life over coffee or a bit of rum.  There are so many shortages for Cubans: shortages of food, of medicines, of water, of electricity, of jobs, but never a shortage of smiles. Fabiola always had a warm and generous smile and hug for each of us.  And her partner played Cuban and Beatles songs for us on his guitar.  YES, all pretty special.
And YES absolutely: the cars and the Zen of automobile repair!  There are colorful and curvaceous American cars from the 1950s and boxy Soviet-era Ladas from the 1970s and 1980s, all maintained as well as possible by their owners.
 
YES!  Worth the wait and worth the work.  May our connections/conexiones with Cuba continue!
 
One last note: This was not our first connection with Cuban printmakers.  Two prior connections to check out are described here: 2009 Cuban exhibit at Laconia Gallery
and 2013: Printmaking in Havana by Liz Chalfin
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