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An artist used to working alone, painter Carol Prusa turned to printmaking in 2020 — a year notable for enforced isolation — and was captivated by the medium’s spirit of community.
Her fascination is reflected in “Expanding Printmaking: South Florida Artist-Run Presses,” a new exhibition at Ritter Art Gallery at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. Prusa, an FAU professor of painting and drawing, co-curated the printmakers’ survey with a colleague, FAU assistant professor of art Joseph Velasquez.
Velasquez seconds Prusa’s view of printmaking as an expanding form. “It’s not about who can afford this painting and put it on the wall in their home,” he says. “It’s a more prolific and democratic medium for people to see, feel, enjoy, and be part of.”
Velasquez brings his own insights to a companion show that he has curated, “Corridos Visuales: Tradition & Innovation in Latinx Printmaking,” at the university’s Schmidt Center Gallery & Public Space.
The paired exhibitions celebrate reproducible — but not necessarily identical — imagery that is pressed into paper and other surfaces using everything from wooden blocks to software. Each print from a run is considered an original “impression,” and Prusa tells us it is “a truly physical process.” The co-curated “Expanding Printmaking” includes works by Kim Spivey (Ground Printmaking), Tom Virgin (Extra Virgin Press), Theo Lotz (Flying Horse Editions), Ingrid Schindall (IS Projects) and John Cutrone (The Jaffe Center for Book Arts).
The Latinx-centered “Corridos” exhibition can trace its origins to a print shop on wheels that Velasquez and a classmate built and piloted as graduate students in Wisconsin.
Texas-based John Medina and California-based Leticia Ernestina Gomez, are among the 10 artists Velasquez has met in his travels featured in “Corridos Visuales.” Many made work specifically for the exhibit: Martin Garcia-Rivera in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in his native Puerto Rico; Brooklyn-based James Martin Mazorra to depict his growing up Cuban in West Virginia.
Issues of place and identity run through “Corridos,” named after the Spanish word for a sung musical narrative. “It’s a story about a culture clash,” says Velasquez, “and that’s what first prompted me to title these exhibits.”
“For Latinx artists,” he adds, “many people expect that you’re going to make sugar skulls and calaveras. There really isn’t an invite for them to make abstract work. I wanted to make sure that was represented.”
ìExpanding Printmakingî runs through March 6 and ìCorridos Visualesî runs through April 10 at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton. Admission to both exhibits is FREE.