When I conceived this project, the challenge of creating a successful contemporary print exhibition and portfolio was the first thing on my mind. What I quickly realized was that being associated with West Virginia University gave me access to many very successful and important contemporary printmakers. Over the years, I have repeatedly bumped into many artists who have worked in our shop as either student or faculty. I have also had the pleasure of teaching some amazing students, who have gone on to graduate school and beyond. Soon it became obvious to me that I could organize a successful and diverse contemporary print exhibition just by contacting artists associated with WVU. The participants in this exhibition have a connection to WVU that spans over twenty years. They are alumni and former professors. They all have walked through the top floor of the Creative Arts Center and used the same presses and equipment that my students and I use today.
I have also had the pleasure of teaching some amazing students, who have gone on to graduate school and beyond.
The excitement in the responses I received from these artists is proof that while many of them live far away from Morgantown, there is still a connection and respect for the program and the effect it has had on their lives. The diversity of imagery and subject matter stand out in this group of prints. I believe this variety is a testament to the belief that concept and imagery should work along side process and not be dictated by it. It was a jarring realization to think that an artist like Patricia Villalobos Echeverria (MFA, WVU, 1990), who pushes the “discourse of (post)humanity and de(materialization) [to] redefine both body and site via painting, photos, prints, sound/video and installations” and Robert Bridges (MFA, WVU, 1987), who “walks a formal tightrope between obsessive recording of the natural world and abstract transformations of it” worked in the same studio around the same time. Michelle Moode’s (MFA, WVU, 2007) work is “an exploration of the non-linear nature of memory so that each piece is
an abstract record of her thoughts.” Matt Forrest (MFA, WVU, 2008) is currently focused on producing works of art that reflect his interest in documenting and understanding local religious organizations within the city of Pittsburgh, and surrounding areas. I had the pleasure of teaching both artists, their artwork and interests couldn’t be any more different. They are great examples of the WVU Printmaking Area’s ability to offer an education where an emphasis is placed on both tradition and personal exploration, while no style or technique/process is valued over another. The quality of individual work has always been the measure of success for our program. I would like to thank all artists involved in this exhibition for making room in their very busy schedules to make prints specifically for this project. I hope this portfolio, exhibition, and catalogue gives all of us a new appreciation for our connections through the WVU Printmaking Area. It was a pleasure to work with all of you, and a pleasure to meet many of you for the first time.
The participants in this exhibition have a connection to WVU that spans over twenty years.
Joseph A Lupo Assistant Professor of Art Division of Art and Design West Virginia University