By Steven Krolak
(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)–“Print Matters, Printing Matters,” the 2016 conference of the Mid-America Print Council, will be hosted by IU Southeast and the University of Louisville from Wednesday, Oct. 5, to Saturday, Oct. 8, on the two campuses, with IU Southeast serving as the event’s home base.
The conference, supported by Indiana University’s New Frontiers in the Arts & Humanities program, will include panel discussions, portfolio exchanges, exhibitions, addresses by leaders in the field and demonstrations on encaustic toner transfers, photo intaglio, hot stamp foil, and everything else you wanted to know about printmaking but were afraid to ask.
Keynote speaker is Carmon Colangelo, dean of the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts and E. Desmond Lee professor for collaboration in the arts at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. The recipient of this year’s MAPC Outstanding Printmaker award is Deborah Maris Lader, an artist, educator and performer also celebrated as founder and director of the Chicago Printmakers Collaborative, which has fostered countless careers since its opening in 1989. Lader’s work will be on display in the Barr Gallery at IU Southeast through October 31.
Some 18 related events will take place at area galleries, museums, artist-run print studios, colleges, universities and other cultural venues in and around the Louisville Metro area.
The conference is expected to draw nearly 600 artists, educators and students, with some coming from as far way as Canada and Poland.
In its varied forums, the gathering will explore what it means to be a printmaker in an increasingly screeen-based world. Spoiler alert: it does not mean standing to the side while the digital arts have their day, but rather engaging new media in creative ways that explode print conventions and give rise to new synergies with emerging technologies and ways of seeing. Print may have described a two-dimensional impression at one time, but today’s printmakers are pushing into multimedia, and as they do so, redefining the essential nature, creative processes and communicative reach of their art form.
At the same time, printmaking as a culture remains true to its roots as a handmade art form that exists in the real world as opposed to the virtual space, and that wherever it is made or displayed, it can be accessed directly, without apps, and form part of ongoing community conversations.
Co-coordinators of the conference are Susanna Crum, assistant professor of fine art at IU Southeast, Donna Stallard, senior lecturer of fine art and Rachel Singel, assistant professor of art at the University of Louisville. Crum and Singel were graduate students together at the University of Iowa, and their collaboration represents an effort to leverage their mutual respect and professional networks to recreate the scope and academic heft of conferences they have known from larger, more established university programs, infused with the street-level dynamism of the Louisville art scene.
“Collaborating with the University of Louisville not only allows us to put on a larger, more inclusive event, it also promotes further collaborations in the future between our programs and our students,” Crum said.
She also sees a direct benefit for students in the fine arts program.
“Conferences like MAPC are crucial for bringing professional artists, educators and students together, and reminding print students of the many ways that they can make a living as an artist, and to help them strengthen connections with other artists like them,” Crum said.
All exhibitions are free and open to the public. The vendors and publishers fairs, featuring companies that sell tools and materials for printmaking, are also free and open to the public. The publisher’s fair will have original artwork for sale.
Of special note are two off-campus shows with IU Southeast connections. On Oct. 6, from 7:30-9 p.m, a reception for “Journey: Work by Donna Stallard” will be held at the Arts Council of Southern Indiana, Pat Harrison Art Gallery, 820 Market Street in New Albany. In the upstairs gallery at the same location and time, IU Southeast alumnus and Ohio University M.F.A. candidate David Spencer-Pierce presents his work, “Imaginary Prisons,” a retelling of 18th century Italian artist Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s “Carceri” (“Prisons”). a landmark in the history of printmaking.
“For our students, the MAPC conference is a way to expand their network of fellow artists and realize just how many are passionately engaged in printmaking as graduate students, educators, curators, entrepreneurs and more,” Crum said.
Homepage image: “Against All Odds,” an intaglio print by Deborah Maris Lader.