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Mixing Media in the 21st Century

The 2007 North American Print Biennial: Exhibition at 808 Gallery

Click on the slide show above to view images from the exhibition.

The 2007 North American Print Biennial will open at Boston University on Sunday, February 18, and bring the best of both traditional and experimental printmaking to BU’s 808 Gallery. Juried by Judith Hecker, the assistant curator of prints and illustrated books at the Museum of Modern Art, the exhibition includes work by more than 150 professional artists, and features a variety of media.

On Sunday, Hecker will lecture on the exhibition at 1 p.m. in the Jacob Sleeper Auditorium, 871 Commonwealth Ave., followed by an opening reception at 3 p.m. in the gallery at 808 Commonwealth Ave.

BU Today spoke with Deborah Cornell, an associate professor of printmaking at the school of visual arts in the College of Fine Arts, about the North American Print Biennial and what it means for Boston University.

BU Today: What kinds of media and techniques are commonly used in printmaking?
Printmaking is an umbrella term that includes several very distinct  media. Each uses differing methods and materials to create a surface that carries an image, but the common thread is that each of these various surfaces creates a printed impression with a wonderfully distinct character. This show includes them all — relief prints from a cut wood or linoleum surface, screen prints where the image is created by a stencil embedded into a piece of fabric and inked, etchings from metal that has been eroded, lithographs from a flat stone or plate that has an inked drawing on it, and even digital prints, where the other surface is a digital file that creates the art print.

How has the genre changed over the last 50 years?
Over the last 50 years, printmaking has been transformed. It still has many rich traditional qualities, but the edges of the medium have shifted and now printmaking covers much new territory. New aspects feature the inclusion of digital means with traditional forms, and the combination of the printed surface and three-dimensional objects to create sculptural installations.

What does having the 2007 Biennial at BU mean for the students and faculty at the school of visual arts?
These are terrific examples of the kinds of methods students are learning about right now, used by professional artists, so it’s a great teaching and learning experience. There’s also a student show, the Arches Student Print Show, concurrent with the Biennial that provides a showcase for each school’s point of view. Twenty area art schools are represented, including prints from the school of visual arts.

What does the exhibition offer the greater BU community?
This is a wonderful opportunity to see professional printmaking from all across North America right at our doorstep. It’s a stimulating show and a broad one! Prints are very exciting to see, but they’re also approachable and affordable, and this exhibition has a long reach — there’s something there for everyone.

Check BU Today tomorrow for a slide show featuring prints from another exhibition, currently on display at the Stone Gallery of the Boston University Art Gallery, Sixty Years of North American Prints: Collecting from the Boston Printmakers.

Click here to see yesterday’s slide show on Episodes & Itineraries: Installations in Print Media by South American Artists.