Take 5 with Fresh Ink Juror Carolyn Muskat

November 8, 2023 by Stewart Ikeda

Portrait of Carolyn Muskat

The Umbrella Arts Center is pleased to present Fresh Ink: Contemporary Explorations in Printmaking, November 16, 2023 - January 4, 2024, juried by Carolyn Muskat. The exhibition includes printmakers from all across New England who use a variety of techniques in unexpected ways that push the boundaries of printmaking and speak to contemporary audiences. We spoke with Muskat about printmaking, jurying, and her upcoming Umbrella workshop.



1. What were you looking for as a juror?

When you jurying an open exhibition call, you are entirely dependent on what is submitted – it’s like a wonderful surprise! For this exhibition, I was looking for how artists were using printmaking. With only 1 – 3 pieces submitted per artist – it’s a very different scenario than doing studio visits. But there was a really broad range of excellent work! Traditional print media were being used either singly or in combination with other print media, or with other media and collage. I wanted to show a range of what all is currently being done within the print media world.

2. What is the significance of being included in the Printmakers Anniversary exhibitions?

Because of The Boston Printmakers’ 75th Anniversary celebrations, prints and printmaking have been in the spotlight throughout the year. For the public and fellow artists, it is a smorgasbord of print-related talks, exhibitions, and workshops to inspire and inform. Being part of that expands everyone’s community.

3. Each printmaker seems to find a method that best expresses their vision. How did you choose lithography?

For me, I love drawing and painting, mark-making of all kinds. And lithography as a medium is wide open in terms of supporting that. Plus – working on a freshly grained litho stone is about the sexiest thing going!

4. How do you see the printmaking medium evolving?

Printmaking continues to evolve; it always has and always will. No matter what new technologies and methodologies are developed, artists will explore and experiment with new and old, mixing and matching to see how diverse methods can be incorporated into their art. At the base of an artist’s practice is the need and desire to express themselves in a visual format; old ‘rules’ are ignored and new possibilities celebrated. And as part of that, what are considered the more ‘traditional’ methods (all of which were considered ‘new’ at some point!) continue to provide expressive opportunities either individually or in combination with other media or new technologies. Artists continue to create – we have to!

5. What's the idea behind "Printing without a Press" (a Dec 9 special workshop led by Muskat) since laypeople might only think about print being associated with a press?

What can you achieve without a press that is equivalent or different from what you would achieve with a press? Printmaking has evolved over the centuries. Initially, all printmaking was done by hand. Presses were developed in order to facilitate speed of printing, or consistency or in some cases, facilitate the printing of newer methods, methods that would be difficult without external help. Printing without a press usually involves a slower pace; a more direct and varied application of pressure; an opportunity to interact with the art in different ways. It is also a good reminder that not everything requires specialized equipment and materials – again, artists have been using printmaking for centuries, and we keep cycling back around and revisiting, re-combining and re-thinking existing methods.


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