Press Room

NMWA highlights creative partnerships between artists and master printers in The Collaborative Print: Works from SOLO Impression

Jun 17 2010

The Collaborative Print: Works from SOLO Impression highlights the creative partnerships between SOLO Impression Inc. founder Judith Solodkin and important contemporary women artists, including Louise Bourgeois, Maya Lin, Jean Shin and Nancy Spero.

Featuring 45 prints from National Museum of Women in the Arts’ (NMWA) collection and Solodkin’s personal holdings, the show demonstrates the New York print workshop’s vitality, including innovative work being done today. The exhibition is on view June 25, 2010, through September 12, 2010.

“Judith’s ongoing inspired vision for SOLO inspires artists to work in a medium they may never have tried previously. Sculptors and painters know that they are working with one of the best printmakers and trust that she can bring their ideas to fruition in her Chelsea workshop,” said NMWA Chief Curator Dr. Jordana Pomeroy who organized the exhibition.

At the heart of SOLO is Solodkin’s philosophy of collaboration. The lithography printing process used at the workshop allows artists the opportunity to explore innovative themes in ways they could not do otherwise through the mixing of colors, choice of paper, and unique means of reproduction. Solodkin facilitates this process, emphasizing the artist and her ideas so as not to let the technique overwhelm. The master printer attributes this system to her life-long goals.

“I knew that I really enjoyed working with artists and that is what I wanted to do,” said Solodkin. The exhibition underscores this special relationship between printer and artist. “It’s fascinating to talk to artists about their work and they are very enthusiastic about talking to me because they want someone who can be responsive to their ideas,” she elaborated. “It’s like a cook getting a new recipe.”

Jean Shin’s Celadon Threads demonstrates the productive nature of these collaborative relationships. Inspired by a public art project that Shin was working on—an installation for a subway station in Flushing, Queens—this print, with its intricate mosaic and arabesque forms and innovative use of digital embroidery, incorporates both the artist’s interests and the printer’s specific talents.

On display are up-and-coming artists, such as Shin, and established names like Bourgeois. Working together for more than 25 years, Solodkin and the late pioneering artist challenged printmaking conventions with massive works of digital embroidery and projects like Caryatid, which used lithography instead of the more common silkscreen to print on fabrics.

Lynda Benglis, represented in the exhibition with the two lithographs Dual Natures (Large), brings another dimension to the artist-printer relationship as a sculptor. Solodkin describes the specific challenges that arose from translating the physicality of Benglis’s knotted sculpture to a two-dimensional lithograph. “Lynda took these pieces of mesh and crenellated them in a fan pattern and sucked the air out of them,” Solodkin explained. “She printed them on 23-carat gold leaf so that they would have the patina of her sculptures.” The prints, with their special sheen and large size, suggest the monumental presence of the artist’s sculpture.

Founded in 1975 in New York City, SOLO Impression, Inc. publishes and prints lithographs, woodcuts, letter-press prints and artists’ books. The first woman to graduate with the title Master Printer from the prestigious Tamarind Institute, Solodkin has continued to encourage women in the arts. Though she did not intend to work primarily with women, a continuing commitment to women artists has emerged from the quality of work these collaborations have inspired.

SUPPORT

The Collaborative Print: Works from SOLO Impression is organized by the National Museum of Women in the Arts and is generously supported by the NMWA Members.

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National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA), founded in 1981 and opened in 1987, is the only museum solely dedicated to celebrating the achievements of women in the visual, performing and literary arts. The museum’s permanent collection features 4,000 works from the 16th century to the present created by more than 800 artists; including Mary Cassatt, Frida Kahlo, Alma Thomas, Lee Krasner, Louise Bourgeois, and Chakaia Booker along with special collections of 18th-century silver tableware and botanical prints. NMWA is located at 1250 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C., in a landmark building near the White House. It is open Monday–Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. and Sunday, noon–5 p.m. For information, call 202-783-5000 or visit www.nmwa.org. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for visitors 65 and over and students, and Free for NMWA Members and youth 18 and under.