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“The Skillet,” an etching created by Curlee Holton, professor of art at Lafayette and director of its Experimental Printmaking Institute, has been selected for inclusion in the collection of the Library of Congress.

Another Holton piece, “The Quilt,” was recently acquired by Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

“The Skillet” is a hand-cut, acid-effected metal plate etching featuring the image of an African mask in the center. It measures 22 by 30 inches and was produced in 1989. The piece was inspired by the traditional cast iron skillet that had been used by most mothers to prepare food. It was created in reaction to the pervasiveness of fast food and a desire to return to the ritual of home-cooked food.

“Those family dinners were more than feeding of the family – they were an expression of love and nurturing from the mother,” says Holton. “The African mask depicted in the print is a female archetype of the mother.”

“The Skillet” was in the collection of Robert Blackburn’s Printmaking Workshop in New York City, the oldest print workshop in the country. Before his death, Blackburn selected a number of prints to be included in the collection. Holton’s print was one chosen for inclusion in the Library of Congress.

The Library of Congress serves as the research arm of Congress and is recognized as the national library of the United States. Its collections comprise the world’s most comprehensive record of human creativity and knowledge.

“The Quilt” was commissioned by the African-American Museum of Philadelphia for its members.

“This piece came out of a series of drawings about the blues music tradition that was so much a part of my growing up,” says Holton. “My father was an avid listener of the blues and later I realized the significance of the music as a vehicle of cultural expression.”

An etching with collage, “The Quilt” measures 22 by 30 inches and was completed in 2000. It presents a lone figure playing the guitar and singing sad songs.

“The songs document a longing for happiness and love,” says Holton. “The blues are calling out for that.”

“It’s a wonderful piece,” says Kim Sajet, senior vice president of museum and public programs at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. “We are thrilled to have ‘The Quilt’ come into the collection.”

The work will be reproduced in full color in a January 2005 publication, The Chemistry of Color: The Harold A. and Ann R. Sorgenti Collection of Contemporary African-American Art. The book will act as the catalog for an exhibition that will include “The Quilt” from Jan. 8 through April 10. It will be the first exhibition in the academy’s new gallery.

Since its founding in 1805, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts has been committed to fostering and collecting American art. America’s oldest art museum and school of fine arts celebrates its 200th anniversary in 2005.

Holton has mounted more than 30 one-person shows and 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. In 2001, he received a commission to create the awards for the Pennsylvania Governor’s Awards for the Arts. His works are in the collections of universities, foundations, and corporations, including Cleveland Museum of Art, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Allentown Art Museum, Villanova University, and Morehouse College. He was the 1999 recipient of Lafayette’s Carl R. and Ingeborg Beidleman Research Award, recognizing excellence in applied research or scholarship.

He is a mentor and collaborator for numerous Lafayette students in creative art projects, including a 130-mural that three seniors are creating together for installation in Farinon College Center. It will consist of 130 one-foot digital images that blend together in a montage to illustrate Lafayette’s past, present, and future.

Holton is director of Lafayette’s Experimental Printmaking Institute, which he founded in 1996. EPI provides an open and creative environment in which professional artists and students create new bodies of work while investigating and experimenting with a wide variety of approaches to the print medium. Its artist-in-residence and visiting artist programs have featured more than 50 residencies, many involving artists with international reputations such as Faith Ringgold, Al Loving, and Sam Gilliam. 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.

Categorized in: Academic News