ESTABLISHED PRINTER CRITERIA
⟶ Distinguished technical proficiency in chosen printmaking technique(s), including experimental printmaking
⟶ Minimum of 5 years’ experience practicing in the field of printmaking, with an extensive body of work--either personal work (with proficient visual language) or collaborative printmaking relationship with fine artists
⟶ Rigorous studio practice
⟶ Exhibiting printmaker (has exhibited consistently within the past 2 years)
⟶ Active website with online portfolio
⟶ Extensive knowledge and expertise in a particular (or several) printmaking technique(s) gained through collaborative work, apprenticeship, mentorship, formal education and/or training. While traditional post-secondary degree and master printmaking programs can be a part of the fulfillment of this criteria, Black Women of Print also considers the relationships between educators, print shop owners, other printmakers and/or artists in a printmaker's history.
*See example below, where "master" printmaker Curlee Raven Holton describes his relationships with both Robert Blackburn and Faith Ringgold, and the impact of their collective experiences. Black Women of Print upholds the value of narrative--lived experiences as valid knowledge, a non-linear methodology of study.
⟶ Continuous seeker of knowledge
*I sometimes think that Faith and I were probably destined to meet one way or another. Before coming to Lafayette College in 1991, I had a National Endowment Fellowship to work with master printmaker Bob Blackburn at the prominent Printmaking Workshop in New York City. After I completed my fellowship, I continued to visit Bob in the following years and valued his mentorship.
Blackburn had established his workshop in 1948, and it would become the oldest operating non-profit print workshop in the country until its demise in 2001. I mentioned Faith's participation in Lafayette's artist-in-residence program to Bob, and this prompted him to show me a number of Faith's earlier prints.
Blackburn greatly admired Faith, and spoke highly of her success as an artist. He found it remarkable that Faith had worked as a teacher for almost twenty years but never stopped showing or promoting her art. 'She has more determination than any artist that I've ever met,' he told me.
Later, after telling Faith that I had worked with Blackburn, Faith laughed softly as she told me that she had made her first real print with Blackburn. She explained that her college printmaking experience was a disaster. She hated printmaking so passionately that she was always the one who volunteered to get the class coffee so she could escape. Faith had told Blackburn the story of her early disappointment with the experience of printmaking, and he invited her to come and print with him. Bob was remarkably persuasive. She made nine different prints in a single year (1988) with Blackburn, including important works such as The Death of Apartheid, Slave Rape, No More War, and Women, Power, Poverty, and Love. Her last print with Blackburn would be her donation to the workshop, titled Under a Blood Red Sky, 2000."
"We created a number of prints throughout the years that were based on her major paintings, such as the second print I made with her, We Came to America, in 1998. This image was first sketched out by Faith at her studio and then drawn directly onto the plate in the same manner that she had drawn Anyone Can Fly. The plate was then sent back to my studio, where it was etched and proofed...
...The final image was printed in eleven different colors on a single plate. I learned this technique of applying multiple colors on a single plate rather than creating a separate plate for each color while studying with master printmakers at the Taller de Artes Plasticas Rufino Tamayo in Oaxaca, Mexico...
...Although we had collaborated on a number of ideas for other prints and trial proofs, this project seemed to cement our relationship. I had become the master printer, and we had become collaborators.
During my many visits to Faith's studio, we would often speak of Blackburn and his contribution to printmaking and the legacy of African American art. We reflected on the workshop experience and how it had influenced our own work, as well as the powerful dynamic that occurs when practicing artists share the same space."
— Curlee Raven Holton
Reference: Holton, C. R., Ringgold, F., & Allentown Art Museum. (2004). Faith Ringgold: A view from the studio. Boston: Bunker Hill Pub. in association with Allentown Art Museum.