th(ink)ing The Experimental Printmaking Institute at Lafayette College

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Steven Lichak
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An important aspect of the Experimental Printmaking Institute (EPI) is the commitment to provide opportunities for diverse artists to create new works on paper. EPI's founding director and master printmaker, Curlee Raven Holton, has developed residencies with a particular focus on Latin American artists, African American artists, and woman artists and many of these residencies have resulted in lasting creative relationships between the artist and Holton. One such artist, Faith Ringgold, first came to Lafayette in 1997 as visiting lecturer. Holton had prepared an etching plate for her in the hopes that she would respond favorably. He placed the plate in front of her and she proceeded to draw her iconic image of Cassie flying up over the George Washington Bridge. The etching, Anyone Can Fly, 1997, was the first of more than 40 prints and portfolios created together at EPI. This exhibition features the etching, Coming to Jones Road Under a Blood Red Sky, #6, 2005. The print is part of a series of works Ringgold created in response to her move to New Jersey. In 1992, Ringgold purchased a house on Jones Road in Englewood, New Jersey, across the river from her Harlem birthplace and not far from the bridge Cassie flew over in Anyone Can Fly. Her dream of constructing a studio and garden became difficult when she found herself surrounded by hostile neighbors who viewed her presence in the neighborhood as a threat to their "quality of life." Her knowledge of ancestors on the Underground Railroad helped her find the inspiration to turn her traumatic experience into a remarkable series of works. After 6 years of battling the town, she finally succeeded in building the studio addition to her house where she continues to live and work today.