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A new exhibition entitled “Work, Pleasure, and Poetry: Japanese Woodblock Prints of the 18th and 19th Centuries” is on display in the gallery of Lafayette’s Williams Center for the Arts through April 29. Exhibition consultants are Ellen Paul Denker and Bert Denker.

In conjunction with the exhibit, New York City master printer Kathleen Caraccio will conduct woodblock printing demonstrations at 1 p.m. Wednesday, April 18, and 9:30 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. April 19. Space in these demonstrations is limited and registration is required. For information, call the gallery, (610) 330-5361, or email

Caraccio will also give a demonstration at 7 p.m. April 18, at the Williams Center. No registration is required for this session

In addition, Katherine E. Martin, director of Scholten Japanese Art, New York, will provide a general overview of Japanese woodblock prints at 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 25, in Williams Center room 108. This is Lafayette’s annual Carol P. Dorian ’79 Memorial Lecture in Art History. The event is free and open to the public.

From 1993-99 Martin was an expert in the Japanese Department at Sotheby’s New York, handling ukiyo-e woodblock prints, lacquer, netsuke, inro, porcelain, paintings and Meiji works of art. She graduated in 1993 with a degree in Asian Studies from the University of Michigan, where she studied Indian and Southeast Asian art and Indonesian language. She is a member of the board of the Ukiyo-e Society of America and a regular contributor to the International Netsuke Society Journal.

Prints gathered for the exhibition generally date from the Edo Period (1603-1868), during which there was only limited contact between Japan and the world outside its borders. The era began with strong Tokugawa rulers insisting on absolute power centered in Edo (now Tokyo) and was characterized by peace and prosperity. U.S. Commodore Matthew Perry hastened the end of the Edo Period by opening Japan to trade with the West. The Meiji emperors set Japan on the road to modernity in 1868 when they embraced foreign influence. Prints in the exhibition from as late as 1890 show how Western influence affected Japanese art.

Artistic energy during the Edo Period was centered on providing exquisite objects for use by members of an increasingly pluralistic society made up of ruling samurai (warriors), farmers, artisans, and merchants. The exhibit has a strong emphasis on woodblock prints that reflect the interests of Japanese society in landscape, home life, theater, and warfare. Artists such as Hokusai, Hiroshige, Harunobu, and Toyokuni, will be represented.

The majority of the woodblock prints are on loan from Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Libertson of Ronin Gallery, New York City. The Allentown Art Museum is lending a period textile for the show.

Ellen Paul Denker is a consulting curator for a variety of public and private organizations throughout the United States. The last exhibit she developed for Lafayette, “Looking East: Art Potters and Asian Influences, 1875-1935,” explored the Asian influences on European and American studio ceramics. Bert Denker is librarian of visual resources at Winterthur, near Wilmington, Delaware.

Caraccio studied in Japan with Toshi Yoshida in 1984. She teaches classes which encompass aspects of 18th & 19th century ukiyo-e printmaking. She has been a master printer with her own workshop since 1977, collaborating with many artists in creating both intaglio and relief editions. She has taught at Columbia University, New York University, and the Fashion Institute of Technology. Caraccio also is an independent consultant and demonstrator of color printing and hanga (the Japanese woodblock method of making luminous color multiples), a master platemaker and printer, and the proprietor of Caraccio Printmaking Studio in New York.

Williams Center gallery hours are noon-5 p.m. Monday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday; and 2-5 p.m. Sunday. The gallery will be closed on April 15, Easter Sunday. For more information, call the gallery at 610-330-5361 or email

Lafayette’s exhibition series is presented under provisions of the Detwiller Endowment, and is funded in part through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency supported by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

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