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Artists and curators from Lafayette’s Experimental Printmaking Institute (EPI) will travel to Costa Rica in October to take part in an ongoing cultural exchange with that country. Led by Curlee Raven Holton, EPI director and associate professor of art, they will conduct workshops in printmaking and bookmaking and install a gallery exhibition entitled “Artists and the Art of the Book.”

“The exchange will inspire creative expression, encourage cross-cultural fertilization, and contribute to a broader understanding of culture and art outside the borders of the participants’ own country,” says Holton.

The Museo of Contemporary Art and Design, San Jose, Costa Rica, will host the exhibition and workshops. Related activities will take place at the Universidade of Costa Rica in association with Professor Alberto Murillio.

In addition to Holton, participants include local artist MaryAnn Miller; printmaker Alfonso Corpus of The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey; Diane LaBelle, director of the Banana Factory in Bethlehem, Pa.; and EPI project director Susan Ellis. Miller will conduct workshops in book arts, and Corpus, who had been an artist in residence at EPI, will offer workshops in contemporary printmaking techniques.

This project began with a trip by Holton to Costa Rica in March 2000. A group of Costa Rican artists visited Lafayette in July 2001. Their stay featured several community activities including exhibitions, panel discussions, workshops, and studio visits with local artists. Workshops included outreach to the local Spanish-speaking community, discussions about the exhibition, and demonstrations for visiting high school students. There were also workshops and demonstrations for local artists. In addition, Murillio produced a limited edition artist book for Lafayette’s collection and inclusion in the traveling exhibition.

A member of the Lafayette faculty since 1991, Holton has mounted more than 30 one-person shows and has participated in more than 75 group exhibitions, including the Seventh International Biennale at the National Center of Fine Arts, Cairo, and shows at Centro de Cultura Casa Lamm Gallery, Mexico City. His works are in the collections of several universities, foundations, and corporations, including the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Villanova University, and Morehouse College.

Holton has participated in several residencies and special projects and has served as curator for a dozen exhibitions. He has also authored many articles and essays and presented numerous papers.

Holton has mentored many Lafayette students in printmaking, bookmaking, drawing, and painting, including Krista Catalano, a senior art major from Greenwich, Conn., who is assisting Holton in the mounting of his current exhibitions at Dizyner’s Gallery in Philadelphia and George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, N.J.

“Not only is Curlee a wonderful teacher, he is also an amazing artist himself,” Catalano says. “That alone is a pleasure to witness. I am extremely happy to be working with him. He was my professor for printmaking, and it was that class that made me decide to seek him as my adviser. I think he is an extremely qualified and caring mentor. He has encountered hundreds of artists in his day and has so much to teach me. He is energetic and supportive, and his knowledge of his field is apparent.”

Last spring Holton guided art major Maya Freelon ’05 of Durham, N.C., in an exploration of oil painting with glazes and acoustic wax techniques in an intensive independent research project. She investigated the works of noted masters like Henry O. Tanner and her own great-grandfather, Allan Randall Freelon Sr., who employed similar techniques.

“Professor Holton suggested I take an independent study so that I could have more one-on-one attention and create a class that would specifically deal with the painting techniques I want to explore,” Freelon says. “This opportunity is one of the main reasons I came to Lafayette. The support from the faculty is amazing and I was able to create a class perfect for me. At a larger college or university this would not be possible, especially not in my first year.”

Holton says, “Maya is a very enthusiastic and gifted student. Watching her develop as she struggles and achieves is satisfying for me as a teacher.”

Holton holds an M.F.A. from Kent State University and a B.F.A. from Cleveland Institute of Art. He was the 1999 recipient of Lafayette’s Carl R. and Ingeborg Beidleman Research Award, recognizing excellence in applied research or scholarship.

An exhibition entitled “Transformations 2002,” which includes Holton’s own installations and multi-media works and works resulting from his collaborations with artists at the Experimental Printmaking Institute, is on display through Oct. 26 at Dizyners Gallery, 65 North Second St., Philadelphia. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 1-5 p.m., and by appointment.

The exhibition represents Holton’s artistic, philosophical, cultural, and personal explorations. He transforms ink, paint, paper, and canvas into objects that stand for more than the sum of their parts. Other artists whose works are in the exhibition include Richard Anuskiewicz, Barbara Bullock, Greg Coates, Allan Rohan Crite, Roy Crosse, Sam Gilliam, Carol Hepper, Lois Mailon Jones, Paul Keene, Al Loving, Karima Mujaes, Faith Ringgold, Rolando Rojas, and Charles Sallee.

Gilliam says, “John Russell, the English critic, wrote for an exhibition in London that Picasso and Matisse frequently exchanged work. Each wanted the respect of the highest taste. In seeing the work of one of Curlee’s students, I could see the exchange of energy and the purposeful transformation after she had studied with him. Curlee loves the potential in every artist to be a printmaker. He believes that art is in the individual.”

An show of Holton’s work entitled “Jazz and Blues: the Art of Curlee Raven Holton” is on view in the main lobby of the George Street Playhouse, 9 Livingston Ave., New Brunswick, N.J., through Oct. 20.

The Princeton Packet says, “Mr. Holton blends storytelling and music through his visual work, which he hopes his students and viewers will read like a book. How appropriate, then, that a collection of his prints based on blues and jazz will be on view in conjunction with the George Street Playhouse’s performance of A Night in Tunisia. It’s a perfect melding of three art forms — music, theater and visual arts. . . . Mr. Holton’s drawings, etchings and prints include earlier work from his “Blues Book” and a new body of work relating to his recent “Jazz Suite.”

Holton will make a special appearance at the exhibit 12:30-1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19. Lobby hours: Mon. noon-6 p.m., Tues.-Fri. 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Sat.-Sun. noon-7 p.m.

The Experimental Printmaking Institute was established in 1996 to create an atelier environment for students and a laboratory-like setting to encourage innovations and experimentation in the printmaking medium.

“Each print that is created at EPI places the student and artist in a master-apprentice relationship while investigating new and traditional printmaking forms,” Holton says. “All the works are the result of a collaboration between teacher, artist, and student – bound by a shared spirit of creativity and love of the art-making process.”

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