Third Coast Prints: A selection of work from Really Big Prints 2021

Be drawn into the Godschalx Gallery to experience a series of large-scale relief prints from last summer’s Really Big Prints! Organized by Berel Lutsky (UW – Manitowoc), Ben Rinehart (Lawrence University), and Katie Ries (St. Norbert College), this biennial event in Manitowoc, Wisconsin allows printmakers to stretch the limits of printmaking and produce work up to 4 by 6 feet in size. By carving into large panels, made out of birch plywood or medium density fiberboard (MDF), only the uncarved area can be covered with ink. When paper is pressed to this inked surface, the resulting image is known as a relief print. Prints on this scale are too large to be pressed witg a traditional printing press, so a City of Manitowoc steamroller steps up to the task.

A steamroller press in action. Underneath the steamroller is board and a thick foam mat, protecting the paper and the carved, inked block from shifting.

Woodblock prints on this intimidating scale can take hundreds of hours to carve and create, months before any steamrollers are involved. On the day of, each artist’s printing process depends on a whole team of “clean hands” and other assistants. After each event, artists wheat-paste one of their prints in an alley in Manitowoc, Wi on Washington Street, across from the courthouse. Though those prints have come down, each artist also contributes a print to the Really Big Prints Archive, to be shared in future exhibitions.

Wheatpasting Really Big Prints in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

The selection of prints from the 2021 event currently on display include work by a St. Norbert art professor, Katie Ries, as well as illustrator Rebecca Jabs, who exhibited in SNC’s Baer Gallery last year. These immersive paper-and ink worlds can initiate reflections on a sense of self and place, the role of stewardship, and the meaning of the natural world. Take an opportunity to surround yourself with these incredible prints before the exhibit closes on March 31!

Althea Murphy-Price ─ From Me to You

The current exhibition in the Baer Gallery, From Me to You, explores topics of self-perception, beauty and the Black female identity through photography and sculpture. Murphy-Price reflects on the problematic weight of expectations as an inherited female legacy, “passed down from me to you.” 

Althea Murphy-Price is an artist and professor at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville whose work explores the social implication of beauty and its relationship to female identity, women, and culture. Her pieces, which range from screenprint collages to rugs made from human hair, have been shown internationally, including in Spain, China, Japan, Italy and Sweden. She has also been featured in Art Papers Magazine, CAA Reviews, Contemporary Impressions Journal, Art in Print, Printmaking: A Complete Guide to Materials and Process, and Printmakers Today. She studied at Spelman College and received a Master of Arts in Printmaking and Painting at Purdue University, as well as a Master of Fine Arts from Tyler School of Art, Temple University.

Much of Murphy-Price’s work grapples with the social perceptions and the sense of personal identity tied to Black women’s hair and hairstyles. Her Goody Girl series of photographs responds to the high expectations of #blackgirlmagic, a hashtag intended to uplift and empower, but can also feel like a pressure to perform. Through a metaphor of barrettes and bows, Murphy-Price explores how trying to live up to fantastical expectations can have real consequences.

Her more recent prints, including Black Bird Girl and Requiem, feature 3D printed objects arranged sculpturally in young children’s hair. The dizzying array of hair accessories used in these photographs also composes her sculpture Counter. Some of these accessories, like bows and flowers, are innocent and childlike, but others, like satellites, bullets, and birdcages, have connotations associated with heavier subjects. All have implied expectations, and carrying their weight can be difficult.

Counter (detail) 2021. 3D printed polymer.

From Me to You opened in two stages, on Feb. 28 and March 3, and can be visited through March 31.