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Lafayette students Martin Brecht of Jeannette, Pa.; Krista Catalano of Greenwich, Conn.; and Christopher Metzger of Lisbon Falls, Maine, are collaborating with renowned artists to create limited-edition prints that will be shown this year in Tokyo and New York.

It’s happening through a special program called Master Artist/Master Printmaker at Lafayette’s Experimental Printmaking Institute (EPI). The works will be on exhibit at Tokyo’s Soah Gallery in June and New York City’s Howard Scott Gallery in July.

The program connects artists with master printmakers. Working with EPI’s founder and director, Curlee Raven Holton, associate professor of art at Lafayette, is the noted artist and scholar David C. Driskell, founder of the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the African Diaspora at the University of Maryland.

Caldecott Award-winner Faith Ringgold is working with printmaker John Phillips of the London Print Studio. Abstract painter and sculptor Richard Anuszkiewicz is teamed with Robert Beckman and Ian Short of the Artists Image Resource at the Foreland Street Studio, Pittsburgh. Abstract expressionist Sam Gilliam is collaborating with Wayne Crothers and Crista Wolf of the Ink Shop Printmaking Center in Ithaca, N.Y.

The artists are using digital and traditional processes and a variety of papers and collage materials. When the project is completed in 2004, portfolios will be available for purchase by museums and collectors.

The students are all senior art majors. Catalano says, “It is amazing to work with such well-known artists. I’m excited to see the finished products. This is a really great learning experience. I’m gaining knowledge that will most definitely be useful after graduation.”

“I’m in contact with some of the best artists today, and all of the work is hands-on,” adds Brecht, who starred as the varsity football team’s placekicker.

The initiative fosters unique mentoring opportunities, encourages creative experimentation, and enables artists and students to work side-by-side.

“The students are learning valuable skills,” Holton says. “They are working with major artists and are being taught organizational and creative processes, cataloging and documentation techniques, and how to put a presentation together. We take the students off-site to the artists’ studios and printmaking workshops and center all activities around developing expertise that will be valuable in the real world.”

Since its founding in 1996, Lafayette’s Experimental Printmaking Institute has provided an open and creative environment for professional artists and students to create new bodies of work while investigating and experimenting with a wide variety of approaches to the print medium. The Institute’s artist-in-residence and visiting artist programs have brought more than 20 artists to campus, many with international reputations. EPI’s exhibitions and international exchanges have introduced a broad range of artists and contemporary printmaking trends to members of the Lafayette community and beyond.

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. Catalano assisted Holton in the mounting of his recent 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 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.

Categorized in: Academic News