Fertile Ground: Midwest Printmaking Traditions

January 30 – March 14, 2015

Haslem and Hodge Galleries, Gallery Three
Made possible by the Alliance of the Swope

Fertile Ground: Midwest Printmaking Traditions explores the work of a select group of gifted printmakers who were trained and worked in Midwest America. In the United States, the tradition of printmaking has long been grounded in the Midwest, with strong programs based in Midwestern colleges and universities. Many of the originators of the great printmaking programs that came into existence after World War II began their studies because of the G. I. Bill and then continued on to create printmaking departments in colleges and universities throughout the Midwest. Students of these programs, in turn, went across the country to continue the legacy of the great Midwestern printmaking programs. The selection of artists in the exhibition will include germinal figures who formed the nuclei of these programs, as well as their artistic descendants, who continue the legacy today.

In the years following the Second World War, British artist Stanley William Hayter and his student, Mauricio Lasansky, who immigrated to the United States in 1943 from Argentina, inspired in young American artists an expanded conception of the fine art of printmaking. Lasansky in particular had long-reaching influence on printmaking in this country, for as an art professor at the University of Iowa, he established that university’s important printmaking workshop. Students flocked to study with him, and in the middle of America, fine art printmaking education began to flower, with ideas then flowing to both the East and West Coasts. Midwestern ateliers, established in such states as Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Ohio, Wisconsin and Minnesota, contributed to direct the course of American printmaking and to effect fundamental change in the practice of studio art in this country. In addition, the institutions of higher learning that supported these printmaking workshops had a significant impact on art education with their creation of a Master of Fine Arts degree that included a printmaking specialization.

Susan Goldman’s documentary film, “The Midwest Matrix, Genealogy of American Printmaking: Oral History of the Post-World War II Midwest Movement,” is the inspiration behind Fertile Ground: Midwest Printmaking Traditions. Goldman’s documentary collects, documents, preserves and disseminates an oral history of the fine art of printmaking in the Midwest after 1945. The film will be presented during the exhibition along with a roundtable discussion by some of the participating artists.