North American Print Biennial Highlights A Festival af Distinguished Prints at BU

Contact: Laura Mikols, 617-353-3666 |

(Boston, Mass.) — Boston University’s School for the Arts and the Boston Printmakers present the work of 106 artists at the 2001 North American Print Biennial, the most prestigious printmaking show in the Northeast. The national exhibition, occupying BU’s 808 Gallery at 808 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston from February 18 through April 8, highlights the scope and excellence of contemporary printmaking.

Comprising four fairly broad printmaking categories — relief (woodcuts), intaglio (engraving, etching), lithography, and serigraphy (silk screening) — the genre grows as artists modify traditional techniques, use them in combination, and introduce new elements, such as digital images. The form’s inherent diversity multiplied by the different thematic concerns of the 106 artists, amounts to a show of endless visual variety.

“Printmaking is really an enveloping term,” says Deborah Cornell, assistant professor of visual arts and chair of the Printmaking Area at BU’s School for the Arts. “In general, it has to do with the impressed image, with layering, with the idea of making a page with the luscious, tactile qualities of the medium.”

David Kiehl, curator of prints for the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and juror for the Biennial, selected the show’s 170 impressions from about 1,600 submitted slides. “Vibrancy and integration especially underlay the selections made for this 2001 biennial,” says Kiehl, who picked the award winners.

“Today we can see how digital technologies are an innovative tool in the making of the images,” he says. “This is something we all must consider . . . is the work in question ultimately about technical virtuosity of the object’s creation or does the work successfully lead us into the reality beyond its physical dimensions — the world of art and ideas. These were my guiding principles in making the choices for this Biennial.”

Kiehl’s participation is a mutually beneficial arrangement,” says Cornell. “As a museum curator, he gets to see an array of new works by established and emerging artists,” she says, “and the Biennial, in turn, benefits from one of the best pairs of eyes for talent in the field.”

This will be the second consecutive Biennial staged at BU, and the second to include a juried selection of student work along with the exhibition proper. The Arches Student Print Show, sponsored by Arches Paper, allows emerging printmakers from more than 18 regional college and university art programs to share the gallery with some of the nation’s best-known artists.

“It’s wonderful for the students,” says Marjorie Javan, president of the Boston Printmakers, “because they’re showing in the same room with all the big-time printmakers they’ve heard about.” The Boston Printmakers represents more than 250 professional artists throughout the U.S. and Canada who work in a variety of print media and embrace both traditional and experimental techniques.

Companion shows at BU include a solo exhibition of celebrated printmaker Pat Steir (SFA ’58) in BU’s Sherman Gallery from March 15 through April 22, 2001, and “Traditions: Printmaking in Boston Since 1960″ at the BU Art Gallery from March 2 through April 8, 2001. Other Boston-area galleries are hosting events related to the exhibition. A complete schedule of events is attached.

The 2001 North American Print Exhibition and all events are free and open to the public. For more information, call 617/358-1034.

What: 2001 North American Print Exhibition
Sponsored by the Boston Printmakers and the
Boston University School for the Arts
And Arches Student Printmaking Competition

Where: Boston University’s 808 Gallery
808 Commonwealth Ave., Boston

When: Sunday, February 18 through Sunday, April 8

Hours: Tues. – Fri., 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sat. and Sun., 1-5 p.m.

Gallery Talk: Biennial Juror David Kiehl, curator of prints for the Whitney
Museum of American Art in New York, will give a brief
presentation at 2 p.m., Sun., February 18

Opening Reception: Sunday, February 18, 2 – 4 p.m.