This exhibition presents a selection of works by Virginia women artists who created prints at the Richmond Printmaking Workshop. All the pieces were chosen from a gift of 251 prints from the archives of the Workshop and donated by Richmond’s Hand Workshop Art Center to the Joel and Lila Harnett Print Study Center, University Museums.
Women artists were an integral part of the Printmaking Workshop, which existed from 1978 to 1991. All the directors were women and their work is included in this exhibition. Under their leadership, the Workshop flourished as a place for artists (both men and women, regional as well as visiting artists) to create prints, collaborate on portfolios, and develop other projects. When the Workshop closed in 1991, its equipment and archives were transfered to the Hand Workshop Art Center.
Organized by the Joel and Lila Harnett Print Study Center, University of Richmond Museums, the exhibition was co-curated by Olivia Kohler (AW’03), senior art history major at the University, and N. Elizabeth Schlatter, Assistant Director, University Museums. The exhibition is part of a yearlong focus, “WomenROCK: Innovators, Leaders, and Seismic Shifters,” at the University of Richmond.
We would like to thank the Hand Workshop Art Center for its generous gift of the prints to our collection, with special thanks to their curator Ashley Kistler for her assistance with the donation. Thanks also go to the artists in the exhibition and Amy Moorefield of the Anderson Gallery of Virginia Commonwealth University for her assistance in the research of the works.
University of Richmond Museums
VIRGINIA WOMEN ARTISTS: PRINTS FROM THE PERMANENT COLLECTION
The Richmond Printmaking Workshop was established in 1978 by artists Nancy Davis and Gail McKennis as a workspace for printmakers of all levels and backgrounds to share their talent and love for the medium. Former director Mary Holland (1985-1989) stated that the role of the Workshop was “to support the making of contemporary art through the mediums of printmaking and papermaking, and to provide the public with the opportunity to learn about and contribute to that art.”
Located at 1529 W. Cary Street in Richmond, the Workshop was one of the few non-university spaces in the city that provided studio space, presses, and technical advice from master printers for a nominal fee. Artist G. Kim Alexander Teeples said that the Workshop “meant freedom to continue working after school.” It was equipped to provide artists the ability to work in various printmaking techniques, including intaglio, relief printing, lithography, bookmaking, and papermaking. The Workshop regularly published portfolios of members’ or invited artists’ work. Several of the prints in this exhibition come from these portfolios.
The Richmond Printmaking Workshop went through several stages of development during its thirteen-year existence, expanding its services both to artists and the public. A Print Club was established to educate the public on printmaking techniques, and through it classes were taught by the artists and directors of the Workshop for beginning print collectors or people interested in learning more about the medium.
In addition to local, national, and international artists, the Workshop also actively sought out artists who specialized in other media to participate in collaborative portfolios and work alongside professional printmakers. This type of cooperation was beneficial to both parties, adding different perspectives to the body of work that each artist produced. Artist Paula Hovde Owen was asked to contribute a print as part of the 1986 Richmond Printmaking Workshop Print Exchange. In reflecting on the experience, she recently stated, “I was invited to make a print and this was something that the print workshop did to remind artists of how wondrous the printmaking process is and enliven the printmaking workshop.”
The Workshop was a unique place for many of the artists who were able to work there, and it formed a social community of local artists and printmakers in Richmond. Many of the former members still reside in the Richmond area and continue to make prints. The Workshop’s legacy lives on at the Hand Workshop Art Center, where its printing presses are still being used to produce artwork, and at the Harnett Print Study Center, where many of the prints are now in the permanent collection.
Olivia Kohler (AW’03)
Senior Art History Major
University of Richmond