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The Printmaking world has always appeared insular to me and I have always felt like an interloper at printmaking exhibits. However, what interests me about the printmaking world is that they seem to work as a community. All the printmakers I know all know each other, all show together all know all of the other printmakers in other places. This is not as true for other media like painting, photography or sculpture. In the painting and photography worlds there are small groups in each town and city, and they may or may not know other groups in other places, or work as a community with similar interests.

Each year Boston is flooded with printmakers form all over the world for about a month when the annual Boston Printmakers exhibition opens. There are lectures, talks, workshops and exhibitions happen concurrently all over the city. So this year, I went to see what all the fuss was about. The North American Print Biennial and the 5th Arches Student Print Exhibition opened on Sunday the 18th at the 808 Gallery on the Boston University Campus. For anyone who does not know a lot about printmaking and has always wanted to, this is a great show to check out. On one side of the enormous 808 Gallery is work by professional printmakers from all over the US working in every print media you can imagine. On the other side of the enormous 808 Gallery space is the Student Print Exhibition. This year the juried show includes student work from the twenty New England Colleges and Art Schools including Boston University, The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Mass Art and AIB.

Unlike last summers Boston Young Contemporaries exhibition, which was the last school wide collaborative exhibition in the 808 Gallery, this opening was not a group of BU students in one corner by their work, and a group of SMFA students in another place by their work. This was a mass of printmakers talking and sharing methods of practice, ideas about each others work, teaching styles, and information on galleries that show prints. As I walked around and talked to different people about their work I began to realize that I was an interloper, I didn’t know the artists they were referencing, I didn’t know the difference between an etching and dry point. What would be great is if this tightly knit community would branch out and be more visible in venues other than those that are made for them.

As a photographer I often find myself only talking with other photographers and every once in a while I realize how much I am missing out on and how much inspiration I can get from work outside of my medium. I learned a lot at the Boston Printmaker’s exhibit and it is really worth checking out. Hopefully we will see more of this work popping up in other places so we don’t have to wait until next year so see what the printmaking world has been creating.


Heidi Marston (reporting for Steve Aishman and Superfriends) at 808 Gallery for the opening of the 2007 North American Print Biennial and the Arches Student Print Exhibition on January 18th, 2007. Heidi interviews several participants about their work in the exhibit.

Video 1: Boston Printmakers
Video 2: Arches Student Show

Boston Printmakers

"The Boston Printmakers: 2007 North American Print Biennial/Arches Student Print Show" is on view until April 1st, at 808 Gallery (Boston University), at 808 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA.

All stills and images are courtesy of the authors, Boston University, Boston Printmakers, and the artists.

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