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Jenny Robinson, Cornerstone, 2018, drypoint on Gampi, 40 x 60
    One from a suite of four prints, Structural Anatomies, made for 
Compressing the Timeline, Academie des Beaux-Arts, Paris, 
September 8 – October 17, 2021

Mario Avati Prix de Print
by Jenny Robinson
At the end of 2018, my husband and I decided to move back to Europe to live for 2 years after living in San Francisco for the past 18 years. There were many personal reasons for this decision, but access to Europe’s many art museums, residencies and opportunities was one of them.
 
Once we settled in Ljubljana in Slovenia, I applied to several different calls for entry, many of which I had never come across before, and so it was with the Prix de gravure Mario Avati.

The prize, one of the most generous awards in the printmaking world, was set up in Paris through the Académie des Beaux-Arts in 2013 by Mario Avati’s wife Helen after his death. Mario Avati was a meticulous mezzotint artist who dedicated his life to printmaking. The prize is awarded in his honor to artists who have spent their careers devoted to working in the realm of Printmaking.
 
One of the appealing things about the application process is how exceptionally straightforward it is. In the initial phase, they ask for 5-10 high quality images of your work, image details, CV, etc. If you get through to the second round, you are required to send the physical prints to Paris so that the jurors, including the notable French etcher and Académie member Erik Desmazières, can judge the work in person. The jurying is based primarily on the quality of the work itself, as well as on a history of exhibiting and promoting printmaking during the applicants’ careers. I don’t believe this is a prize for students or early career artists.

 
Complex, 2021, drypoint on Gampi, 40 x 60     
Second from the suite, Structural Anatomies, made for 
Compressing the Timeline, Academie des Beaux-Arts, Paris 
I received notification that I had been selected to be the Lauréat in October 2019 while in Ljubljana. The prize comes with a large monetary gift, which I had read as $4,000 when I applied, but now realized was actually $40,000, so I felt a bit stunned and incredibly honored. My first thought was that I could now purchase an enormous etching press, which I have long dreamed of! The recipient is also given the no less valuable prize of a solo exhibition in the newly (2019) refurbished, stunning Salle Comtesse de Caen Gallery at the Institute de France, Paris.
 
The invitation to the annual Award Ceremony for November 2019, “on the occasion of the solemn reception of the Académie des Beaux-Arts,” with expectation to attend, took place under the dome of the Institute de France.

The ceremony was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had professionally, and I would not have missed for the world. It was such an experience to be part of the pomp, grandeur and ceremony, surrounded by famous Academicians in embroidered uniforms, and afterwards, the grand opening of the gallery with champagne flowing all evening.
 
Because of the refurbishment of the gallery, the exhibitions of the previous year’s Lauréat winners (there are prizes for many art categories), had been delayed for a year, so the date for my own exhibition had already been pushed back. The pandemic, of course, has affected everyone’s plans and although my exhibition was originally for March 2021, then May 2021, it has now been rescheduled for September 8 – October 17, 2021.


The extra time afforded by these delays has actually been a gift, as it has given me time to build an exhibition concept specifically around the space and atmosphere of the gallery, which is painted the darkest of dark blues throughout. This new body of work is almost entirely based on drawings I had made during my first 6 months in Europe.
 
Rotondo, 2020-2021, drypoint on Okawara paper, 24 x 24, from a portfolio of 6 prints.
Jenny's "Lockdown Project"

 
Click image for video: Kraft paper sketchbook bought from
a little shop in Bologna of drawings done during first months in Ljubljana, 2019
When I arrived in Slovenia, the dramatic change in architectural style and history was at first a little daunting. That part of the world is full of picturesque, medieval towns and cities, and was a challenge for me initially to find visual elements that interested me from a more structural point of view. I wanted to go back to drawing, and for 6 months drew everything that attracted me, mostly in sketchbooks done on site and developed further in the studio.
 
The arrival of Covid-19 and lockdown in Europe in February 2020 meant that my grand plans for printing large scale work and installations for the exhibition were on pause. I could no longer travel to take up residencies and print on large presses, and since Ljubljana had no options for large printmaking facilities, I had to temporarily rethink the scale of my ideas. I embarked on a concept for a portfolio of six jewel-like images (24 x 24) referencing different European architectural styles, that would stand out against the dark walls of the gallery.

The circular format was a deliberate choice and represents self-containment, isolation and protection. Starting with a more representational drawing of the Palm Haus in central Vienna, the series slowly progressed and morphed, almost unconsciously, towards a sixth sphere that starts to resemble a brutalist cell, like the Corona virus itself.
Palmhouse #1 Barcelona, 2021, drypoint on Gampi paper, 50 x 80
Based on The Umbracle in Ciutadella Park
When travel restrictions lifted, I was able to resume my large-scale work and travel to residencies with large presses. I made the first of my Palm Houses installations at Edition Basel in July 2020. This series is printed on 4 large sheets of Gampi, layered and floating over each other, and suspended from the ceiling. It references and is inspired by spaces that reflect feelings of shelter, fragility, protection and renewal and was originally conceived after visiting The Umbracle in Ciutadella Park, Barcelona, a few months after arriving in Europe. The Umbracle is a structural iron building, with a slatted wooden roof to recreate the filtered light and shadows of the tropical rainforest. I grew up in Borneo, and this may be why I completely fell in love with the place, and was drawn so strongly to it. I went back many times over the past 2 years, and spent hours drawing in my sketchbook there.
 
The choice of subject and materials, especially for this series of floating installations, are an integral and vital part of my work process and are designed to conceptually compliment AND complete the finished piece.
 
The choice of Gampi, a tissue thin Japanese paper whose fragile translucently belies its strength, creates a juxtaposition between the weight of the subject matter and its substrate, drawing attention to the ultimate fragility inherent in both.
Click image for video: Jenny Robinson printing a
40 x 50 drypoint plate on Gampi paper at the Kala Art Institute, February, 2021
Back in San Francisco, and back at the Kala, Berkley, I am continuing my work for the exhibition, working on large scale drypoints, installations, artist's books and a set of 20 woodcuts taken directly from, and the same size as, the original drawings I made on on paper after my arrival in Slovenia, which brings me full circle.

www.jennyrobinson.com
@jennyrobinsonprints
“Yes, we’re smiling behind those masks!” Left to right:
Renee, Sharon Hayes and Sandra Cardillo, checking in
exhibition prints at Lesley University

 
Letter from the President
With spring comes hope, growth, opportunity, vaccines…
 
In the spirit of renewal, CONNECT: Small Prints by Members of The Boston Printmakers opens at the Providence Art Club on March 28 and runs through April 16, 2021. We have emerged from hibernation, and are delighted to be exhibiting with the Society of American Graphic Artists (SAGA), whose Annual Exhibition is upstairs. Together these exhibitions celebrate the splendor and expressiveness of printmaking! We hear the Art Club is receiving a steady stream of visitors, selling artwork and producing superb, online events.
 
There will be one in-person, timed-ticket event on Saturday, April 10, 2021 from 12–4pm and three online, virtual events, Wednesday, March 31 • Thursday, April 1 • Wednesday, April 14.  Please review the listings in details on the CONNECT, members show page and join us to explore and celebrate this show on zoom. Registration is required through the PAC events page, and will be posted three weeks before their dates of occurrence.
 
I am hoping members have received and responded to the Survey sent earlier this month. It will be available through April 3, and since we rely on member participation for all we do, your survey answers will greatly assist us to maintain high membership satisfaction and a strong future.
 
The 2021 Annual Meeting will be a virtual event providing opportunity for all members to join from near and far! The event will include a brief business meeting, a report on the survey findings, and online portfolio viewings! Mark your calendar for Sunday, May 2, 2-4:30pm EST. You will receive a message closer to the date with details and registration.
The 2021 Anderson Ranch scholarship winner is Joshua Brennan and the 2020 recipient, Mei Fung Chan, will also attend this summer. We thank the Ranch for their flexibility and generosity for this popular annual event.
 
Please enjoy the articles on three members working during the time of Covid. They are rich, fascinating and thorough, a very good read. We thank the contributors, and look forward to future articles, possibly written by you!
 
Lastly, the Providence Art Club invites BP members to teach and lecture.  In non-pandemic times, many members participating in the CONNECT show would travel to Rhode Island to meet the staff and marvel at the glorious galleries at the Art Club! One aspect of working with a prestigious, vibrant club is the opportunity that comes with our mutual introduction. So, we want you to know that BP members are being invited by PAC to propose classes either on zoom or for socially distanced classrooms in RI. And, they have a Takach press onsite!
Here is the direct message from PAC to BP members:
The Providence Art Club is currently seeking printmakers to instruct printmaking classes. PAC workshops normally run for three days and can be taught in-person or virtually. If interested, please reach out with an email of introduction to Abba Cudney, PAC’s Education Coordinator. Please include your name, website, social media presence (if any) and a detailed proposal of the printmaking technique you would like to teach. PAC would also need to know if you would be teaching this class in person or virtually (non-press techniques), and your fees to attend your workshop.
 
The Providence Art Club has an artists’ lecture series. If you’re interested in doing a zoom lecture for PAC, where you talk about you, your art, inspiration and technique, please reach out to Gallery Director Michael Rose with the same information provided for Abba Cudney above. Proposals are accepted on a rolling basis.
 
So, as we emerge from winter and the pandemic, I hope you will take advantage of some of these events and opportunities through our collaboration with Providence Art Club.
 
Best in health and printing,


President
Winter Peril, linocut, detail
 
Lest We Forget, or, Knives Out!  A look at the Covid Chronicles of Ellen Shattuck Pierce
By Susan Denniston

Everything is changed and Ellen Shattuck Pierce has been chronicling life turned upside down.  Perhaps the most poignant personal story shared in her Covid Chronicles to date is in the print Winter Peril.  Front and center is a student in his winter parka sitting at a desk.  He is the son of an essential worker, zooming into Ellen’s art class.  He speaks little English; she speaks little Spanish.  He is at a chilly drop-off “Learning Center” with the windows wide open during winter, the air scrubbers whirring at a dull roar; she is at home teaching drawing to a grid of kids in parkas at learning centers, YMCAs, classrooms, and homes (while her two teenage sons “attend school” at home, sitting at their own screens).  The student persists; she cheers him and the other kids on as the papers and the endless days of Covid chaos fly around. 
 
But I am getting ahead of myself.
 
I talked with Ellen Shattuck Pierce, a printmaker, art teacher, mother of two teenage sons, living with her sons and husband in Boston.  She has been making linocuts since she was 14 years old.  It is her medium of choice, saying she likes a hard edge, a hard line.  I could see she had a wonderful and generous, dry sense of humor (see 36 Views of Home on her website).
 
As Covid began, she started what was to become a series of prints created in linocut.  She collected images from the news as the realities of 2020 engulfed us.  Amidst everything, she begins to re-size and collage the images, gaining focus, editing, arranging, re-arranging.  She transcribes the collaged arrangement onto the linoleum block, starts carving, and uses a small press in her basement to proof the prints.  She pulls her final prints at Full Tilt Print Studio, a cooperative print studio in Boston.
 
 
Let It Wash over You, linocut, 18 x 24, 2020
Her first Covid print, Let It Wash Over You, refers to a time that seems hard to remember now.  We were all in for a “two week” disruptive adventure: “locked down” at home, lots of hand sanitizer, no masks, taking long walks with the dog, floating downstream. A sense of “go with the flow”, a “funny” kind of vacation; a time for grace and flexibility during unusual circumstances.  Now, Ellen is almost shocked by the light-heartedness of the print.
4/13/20 - 5/1/20, linocut,18 x 24, 2020
Next, 4/13/20 – 5/1/20, is filled with her feelings of sadness.  A rope forms a heart that lassos universal symbols: prison, hospital, restaurant, passport control, recycling, veteran, black power, elderly, babies, house of worship, deliveries, wheelchair, medical professional, CDC: all pulled down by an anchor.  And there is more: the cruise ship with Covid passengers we refused to help, the Patriots plane bringing desperately needed PPE to Boston area medical workers, a chart tracking the “first wave” of infections, and all parts of our bodies subject to attack by the novel coronavirus.
Wash, Rinse, Repeat, linocut, 18 x 24, 2020
Wash, Rinse, Repeat.  The despair continues and escalates.  Salt is blithely and profusely poured onto our wounds.  We line up for food, though food is being ploughed under because it cannot be distributed (symbolized by the egg cartons and broken eggs).  We line up to be tested, though there are few testing supplies or sites.  And we line up desperately wanting to protest the murder of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, while our president golfs, and worse.  I see eyeballs and eyewash stations: the scales are falling from our eyes and we are awakening to the depth and cruelty of systemic racism and its impacts on healthcare, food security, and policing.
 
At times Ellen despaired; she could not keep up with the tsunami of changing and accelerating crises.  But when one of her sons pointed to the Patriots plane filled with PPE and asked, “Did that really happen?” she understood why she was adding her voice of social commentary to the record of pain and chaos wrought and revealed by the pandemic.  She would keep carving.
C'mon America! Mask Up!, linocut,18 x 24, 2020
C’mon America! Mask Up!  The widespread destruction of fresh food (milk dumped, hogs euthanized) as restaurants, hotels, and schools closed is shocking, dystopian.  The United States is on life support, tubes connecting us to a beating heart.  An Icarus with lungs for wings flies dangerously close to the sun as eyes weep endless tears.  And the only way to see a loved one in a nursing home is to visit via bucket truck.
 
Scylla Retold, linocut, 18 x 24, 2020
In Scylla Retold, Ellen’s rage is unmasked.  Ellen is Scylla, the man-hating sea monster of Greek mythology.  Scylla tears off and eats the heads of all fishermen that sail past.  She carved this print with her sharpest knives after watching Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez respond to Representative Ted Yoho who called her a “f**king b**ch” on the steps of our Capitol.  In this print, Scylla’s tentacles feature Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton, and members of The Squad.  All have been called sexist and racist slurs because they dared to seek and assume power. Ellen said it was exhilarating to model these fierce women after Scylla.  How many tales of villainous women have we absorbed and projected onto women?  As a society, we turn women who seek power into monsters on a daily basis.  Ellen said this story is ancient:  Through a long journey of isolation Scylla hones her witchcraft and uses it as self-defense and to protect what she loves.  She is self-reflective, smart, fierce, benevolent, hardworking, sexy, and loyal.  That’s the truth that is revealed.  That is the truth for all of these women.  “Let their stories be told and let them lead.” 
Reopening, linocut, 18 x 24, 2020
Reopening, with a sense of hope or a sense of dread?  Ha! “Taste the Adventure” indeed, while a coronavirus sun shines on friends enjoying lunch at a waterfront café and others lounge on the beach.  So many trip-hazards on that brick walkway, not the least is the head of Christopher Columbus.  The prints keep on giving: the more you look, the more is revealed.  A sense of foreboding and foretelling of our Winter of Peril is seen in the roiling sky filled with birds and boomerangs.
Winter Peril, linocut, 18 x 24, 2020
Winter Peril.  Well, the numbers of people infected with Covid, hospitalized with Covid, and killed by Covid did skyrocket – at the very time we longed to be with our families to celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanza or the New Year or a wedding; or to mourn a death and bury a loved one.  The hands that fold inward and then open as in “Here is the church, here is the steeple, open the doors and see all the people” symbolize the heartbreaking and contentious times of anger and despair the pandemic has brought.
 
And this is the print with Ellen’s student in a parka: a teacher doing her best to be resilient, creative, caring and supportive; a student showing up and doing some amazing drawings.  Ellen told me it is the students who do give her hope in a time that often feels hopeless.
The Big Wave Goodbye, linocut, 2021
The Big Wave Goodbye is nearing completion. We see Wi-Fi trees and towers everywhere, looming over a nearly empty school playground and USPS mailboxes dismantled and piled up, ready to be hauled away before the election.  The exhausted woman/mom gives a hostile/obscene hand/arm gesture of good riddance to 2020.
 
How we had hoped the end of 2020 would be the end of this trauma.
 
Ellen will continue to work on her Covid Chronicles. In January Covid came home and with it a new sense of anguish.  How did it happen?  Her husband worked from home, they were all super-careful, but there he was: laid low, isolating, his sons feeling scared hearing him cough but not able to be with him.  He has recovered and she begins the next Covid Chronicle.
 
Ellen is a keen and engaged observer with stories to tell.  Keep on cutting, and stay safe.
Ellen Shattuck Pierce in her studio
William Evertson: Mythologies and Politics

By Julia Talcott

I spoke with Bill in January 2021 about his work and his journey as a printmaker.  He has been a member of the Boston Printmakers since 2012.  Bill was born and raised in Moravia, NY in the Finger Lakes of Upstate New York.  Growing up he worked in his father’s auto body shop, learning to weld and work with his hands.   In 1970, when he was awarded a work-study grant to attend Ithaca College, Ithaca NY, it just happened to be in the Art Department. This was his first introduction to fine art, and he never looked back.  Encouraged by his professors for his hard work and skills, he chose to continue his education, getting an MA in sculpture at the University of Delaware. Moving to NYC after graduation, Bill worked in his studio and in a gallery as a professional framer.  Throughout the years Bill has been able to use his building skills in many different jobs to support his artistic practice.

Indifference and Suffering in the Age of COVID-19, Woodblock print, 31 x 48, 2020

His interest in printmaking began during an art residency in Thailand in 2000/2001 where he observed monks of great skill, carving and printing woodcuts.  Drawn to the physicality of carving wood, and the prodigious skill of the monks, he decided he needed to learn more about traditional printmaking in Asia.  This led him to Mokuhanga.

Rota Fortunae, color woodblock print, 12 x 12, 2020

To this day Bill prints most of his woodcuts with a traditional Japanese baren, one factor that helped him to stay productive though the Covid 19 shut down.  Covid cancellations gave Bill the time to focus, and he was not inhibited by the lack of a printing press.  Bill’s studio is in his house and garage by a lake in a quiet area of coastal Connecticut, where he felt relatively safe during the shutdown. Recently his work was exhibited in William Evertson: Mythologies at the Center for Contemporary Printmaking in Norwalk, CT.

 

Prometheus, color woodblock print, 42 x 31, 2020

The idea is primary in Bill’s process.  Lately he feels he has become more political, but he shies away from didactic images.  His early inspiration came from inimitable political printmakers like Kathe Kollwitz, William Kentridge, Anselm Keifer and Francisco Goya.  He admires the way that their work is political but still can be read on many levels.  Like them, he tries to strike a balance between the visual and the idea.  Some of his pieces, such as Icarus and Rime cite mythological and poetic stories as commentary on our current political climate.

Rime, Woodblock Print, 34 x 48, 2020

Research is key to his work.  Rime is based on the famous Coleridge poem, Rime of the Ancient Mariner.  (Bill was inspired by the Covid project: the Rime of Ancient Mariner Big Read sponsored by the University of Plymouth, UK.)  The “Mariner” in this mesmerizing poem shoots a seabird called an albatross, a symbolic bird of good luck to sailors, and is punished by a shipwreck and continued bad luck in life.  Bill’s magnificent black and white print Rime relates elements of the story with concerns over the state of our country.

Moses and the Burning Bush, woodblock print, 29 x 51, 2020

A consummate printer in color, Bill has more recently been enjoying working in black and white.  Color prints, especially large ones with many plates are a huge undertaking, confides Bill.  The impact of color versus black and white is negotiable to his sensibilities, and since he is not backing down on working large, his says his color may be more limited in the future.                               

Garden Variety Sisyphus, color woodblock print, 42 x 31,  2019

Currently fascinated by the issue of fake news and conspiracy theories, Bill is reading, among other things, Cervantes’ classic tome about the dreamer Don Quixote, and accounts of witch trials. Bill likes to create exploratory sculptures as he goes along and considers his topic visually and conceptually from various aspects before committing his carving tools to wood. 

I, for one, am looking forward to seeing the results!                                      

William Evertson in his studio
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