‘The History and Techniques of Printmaking’
Selected works from the collection of Dr. Efram Burk
Where: Sellars Gallery, Simmons Visual Arts Center at Brenau
University, 100 Boulevard, Gainesville
Also at Brenau University:
Print selections from the Brenau University permanent art collection
Where: Leo Castelli Art Gallery, Burd Center, 429 Academy St., Gainesville
Mixed media from painter, printmaker and photographer Melissa Harshman
Where: Presidents Gallery at Brenau University, 100 Boulevard, Gainesville
Every other spring, students at Brenau University have the chance to take a printmaking class.
And lucky for them, the galleries at the college in Gainesville are filled with dozens of examples of printmaking, some hundreds of years old, some with a modern flare and others offering a range of styles and techniques.
Three separate exhibits at Brenau’s galleries offer three very different ways of looking at printmaking. The centerpiece of the exhibits is "The History and Techniques of Printmaking," pieces from the collection of Efram Burk, a professor at Curry College in Boston.
The collection starts with prints made during the Renaissance and flows around the Sellars Gallery, located just a few doors down from Pearce Auditorium, in a visual history lesson.
Burk defers to his father and grandfather when talking about the collection; he has his own favorites, he said in an interview following a recent talk at the gallery, but he credits his grandfather with the initial legwork.
"Many of these compositions were collected over a period of 50 years by my dad," he said. "But it started with my grandfather, and he started collecting Inuit stone prints."
His grandfather ended up amassing one of the largest collections of Inuit stone prints from Baffin Island.
Today, he said, his father still scours area art shops and barters with friends, looking for additions to the collection. The prints in the collection on display at Brenau show a variety of early printmaking techniques, including hand coloring and even crayons. While most are small in size, they need to be seen up close to appreciate the detail and craftsmanship that went into them. The collection in the gallery is also grouped by printmaking techniques, such as relief, photographic and intaglio.
One fairly recent addition to his personal collection, Burk said, is a print by Marguerite and William Zorach, master printmakers from the first half of the 20th century. He’s particularly proud of the piece, he said, and is proud to have it in the collection.
"We were able to get a late one — not a great one, but we’re able to say we have one."
Upstairs in the President’s Gallery is an exhibit of prints by Melissa Harshman, a contemporary printmaker whose collection, when viewed after Burk’s pieces, provides a distinctly modern take on the old art form.
Harshman uses images from cookbooks, magazines, dictionaries and other forms of printed pieces, scanning them into the computer, manipulating them and then outputting the final piece using traditional printmaking techniques.
Her work is modern but with a 1950s flare, said Brenau’s Gallery Director Vanessa Grubbs, and it’s also an opportunity to see a modern female artist in her element. Harshman is currently the chairwoman of the printmaking department at the University of Georgia.
"I was really honored she was willing to show the work of herself and her family," Grubbs said. "It still has the same bright, upbeat color and still has the images of women, but in different ways."
Around the corner from the Simmons Visual Arts Center’s shows is a third installation of prints, this one from the college’s own collection.
Curated by Mary Beth Looney, the chairwoman of Brenau’s art department, the exhibit features a diverse selection of prints using standard techniques along with hand coloring and collage pieces.
Notable among the pieces is the dark night scene "Broom Street" by Helen Frankenthaler, an American abstract impressionist. Another piece by Kiki Smith merges printmaking techniques with college, as she printed out an image of a face and then inserted it onto another piece of paper.
"So not only is it a print, it’s a collage," Grubbs said. "There’s some mixed media elements going on. It’s a pretty dynamic show."
And not only will Brenau students be inspired as they walk to class, Grubbs said, but through the school’s art education program, about 900 students will get to see the printmaking, too.
The collections bring together different worlds of printmaking in the best possible way, she added.
"I was really trying to bring together all the best or printmaking," she said. "I hope that’s really inspiring. It’s also cool, too, because they can walk down the hall and see an example of something they’re doing in class."