The Hulsey Gallery at Oklahoma City University is currently hosting the works of a collective of printmakers from around the country. The third annual Connect: Collect and its companion show Print as Object are the creations of a trio of artists from Oklahoma City, all of whom met at Laura Warriner’s Artspace at Untitled in Deep Deuce. Emma Difani, Alexa Goetzinger, and Virginia Sitzes are all printmakers themselves, and they started the show as a way to create a community of printmakers who would engage in creative conversations and showcase the traditional art form in their own geographic areas.
When the three met, Goetzinger was the education coordinator at Artspace, and she included printmaking in her curriculum. Warriner’s gallery has long hosted an annual Steamroller Print Festival, making it a rare-ish venue for what Goetzinger calls an “archaic art form.” “Outside the community of printmakers, even other artists tend to associate the idea with digital printmaking, but we work in a variety of traditional methods: lithography, letterpress, woodcut, and even overlapping methods,” Goetzinger said.
Connect: Collect gathers the work of 32 printmakers from around the country—and it’s open to international submissions as well—for display in Oklahoma City, and hopefully, in the home cities of the participating artists.
“We ask that each artist selected produce enough sets to share with all the other artists,” Difiani said. “A packet of all the prints is sent to each artist in the hope that they will be able to set up a show in their home city.”
In that sense, the show is really an international print exchange for artists working with traditional printmaking processes. The project is designed to connect and encourage artists to create original print editions that will be exchanged and exhibited as a collection. Goetzinger said collecting and sharing is already common among printmakers.
“Printmakers already sort of automatically make runs of 10 or 12 prints or more to trade with other artists,” Goetzinger said. “They bring them to shows almost like decks of cards.” Artists submit a portfolio for consideration, and a jury process determines the selected artists for each year’s show. One of the rules for submitting is that each artist must contribute at least one print in an analog or traditional form: woodcut, litho, etc. The subjects and other contributions are up to each individual artist.
“Most art is ‘one of one,’” Difani said. “Printmaking allows more people to collect and experience original works of art in greater numbers.”
The beauty of printmaking—in addition to the actual piece of art—is that artists create an original work of art that is intentionally designed to create multiple copies through the printmaking process. It’s not as if an artist creates a painting and then photocopies it. Each print is made by the artist, and in the case of traditional forms, made by hand.
Sharing space in the same gallery as Connect: Collect, Print as Object is a show that demonstrates the uses of printmaking beyond the standard print on paper. Artists are encouraged to feature printmaking in more adventurous or even experimental compositions.
Michigan native Lu Colby’s “Who Put Baby in the Corner?” is a humorous and sprawling collection of prints of brooms and dusters in the northwest corner of the gallery. Dirt on the prints is from Colby’s home, gathered via broom and vacuum. Highlighting the “laborious and repetitious nature of domestic work,” as well as gender roles related to domestic work, its use of printmaking enables Colby to replicate the work at galleries all over at a minimal cost compared to more permanent art forms.
Another featured artist in Print as Object is San Antonio’s Lisette Chavez, a native of the Rio Grande Valley and multidisciplinary artist. She will be at the opening reception for both shows Thursday, Sept. 9, for an artist talk at 5 pm at the Norick Art Center, the building that houses the Hulsey Gallery on Oklahoma City University’s campus. The opening reception is free and open to the public, and runs from 5 to 8 pm. The shows are open to the public already, and will be available until Oct. 15. For the reception, the founders request that all attendees wear masks.