The Boston Printmakers 2023 North American Print Biennial

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The Boston Printmakers 2023 North American Print Biennial

October 10 – December 9, 2023

808 Gallery

Presenting the best in contemporary and traditional printmaking, the North American Print Biennial has long been recognized as one of the most prestigious events in printmaking. Founded in 1947 with the first exhibition held in 1948, the Boston Printmakers has been making exhibitions for 75 years to promote excellence and innovation within the field of printmaking. This highly anticipated juried exhibition of artists living and working in North America showcases artwork ranging from traditional print processes and digital media to work in more expansive, interdisciplinary approaches.

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Photos above by Cydney Scott

Excerpt from BU Today deep-dive on the exhibitions

“This is an area of artmaking that really broadens the expression of art—it’s an ancient medium, but it’s also incredibly new all the time,” says Deborah Cornell, a College of Fine Arts School of Visual Arts professor of art and chair of the SVA printmaking program. “We’re still finding terms for new media that we have within printmaking.”

Cornell, a board member of the Boston Printmakers, an international association based in Boston, was instrumental, along with Renee Covalucci (CFA’84,’85), president of the Printmakers board, in bringing the group’s annual North American Print Biennial back to BU after a decade. The first Boston Printmakers Biennial held at BU was place in 1997, and over the years, the biennials have been held at Lesley University and Massachusetts College of Art and Design, among other locales.

In honor of the 75th anniversary of the Boston Printmakers Biennial, there are also two smaller exhibitions accompanying the main jury show: Legacies of Leadership in the main hall outside the gallery and Disciplines of the Spirit on the Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground second floor. All three shows are on view through December 9 at 808 Comm Ave.

The juried exhibition in the 808 Gallery features an almost dizzying array of contemporary prints that Cornell says is a comprehensive tour of modern printmaking—each entry was completed no earlier than 2020. Juried by Elizabeth Rudy, Harvard Art Museums Carl A. Weyerhaeuser Curator of Prints, the works force the viewer to consider the manifold properties of printmaking, in particular its dimensionality and malleability.

Disciplines of the Spirit, on the Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground second floor, next door to the 808 Gallery, takes its name from Thurman’s 1963 treatise on spiritual life. Curated by Covalucci, the works reflect on the association’s first members show, in 1948, which featured working-class and Black artists from Boston and surrounding communities. In homage to the legacies left by members such as Alan Rohan Crite and John Woodrow Wilson, a CFA professor emeritus, who died in 2015, Disciplines of the Spirit includes pieces that primarily reflect contemporary and historical Black narratives.

“This exhibition praises the Boston Printmakers’ commitment to democracy, equality, and opportunity for all as reflected in the inclusivity of its members,” Covalucci writes in a gallery statement.

Legacies of Leadership, the other accompanying exhibition, was curated by Cornell and Joshua Brennan, a CFA lecturer and technical associate in printmaking. The exhibition’s 28 works are by 24 artists who were vital to the Printmakers’ longevity and remain stakeholders in its future. Works by featured artists—including current board members, past presidents and leaders, and Cornell and Covalucci—span decades and techniques, and many of the artists were on hand during the reception weekend, mingling with fellow practitioners from across North America. Cornell, who was in charge of generating gallery text for Legacies, says she was touched when she reached out to the artists for more information.

After a Decade, 75th Annual Boston Printmakers Biennial Returns to BU

Exhibition, at three venues at 808 Comm Ave, seeks to move printmaking “beyond the two-dimensional plane.” Read more in BU Today!

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Photos above by Emily Wang (COM’26)

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Photos by Cydney Scott & Emily Wang (COM'26)

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