Learn About the Collection
Explore our special collections:
Brandywine Workshop and Archives’ Permanent Collection includes prints made by the more than 450 artists who have been in residence at BWA to date. Over 1,100 prints have been published by BWA in limited editions as screen prints, woodcuts, lithographs, monographs, collages, and mixed-media approaches. The Permanent Collection also includes more than 300 prints donated to BWA by private individuals, artists, and special collections representing the following organizations: Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop, New York City (through Mr. Blackburn and his estate); Taller Experimental de Gráfica, Havana, Cuba; Hatch-Billops Collection, New York City; and Self Help Graphics & Art, Los Angeles, CA. Work created at Coronado Print Studio and the Serié Project, Austin, TX, is represented in digital files rather than physical prints.
Prints from the collection are exhibited in the Printed Image Gallery and Glass Lobby Gallery at BWA’s campus in Philadelphia, in traveling exhibitions, and are available for loan to other institutions for exhibitions. Prints from the Visiting Artists Collection are shared by gifts or purchase to establish Satellite Collections at art museums, universities, and heritage centers.
In 1947, African American artist, master printmaker, and teacher Robert Blackburn (1920–2003) purchased a lithographic press. In 1948, at age 28, he opened the Printmaking Workshop, which became the largest and longest-operating nonprofit print workshop in the United Status. In 1971, the Printmaking Workshop incorporated as a nonprofit organization with a mission to maintain creative and artistic quality, support and encourage innovation, create opportunities for Third World and minority artists, and foster public appreciation of the fine art print. It was renowned for its open, informal, and accommodating atmosphere.
Health complications led Blackburn to close the Printmaking Workshop in 2002. In 2003, he passed away. As a program of the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop reopened in 2005, extending Blackburn’s legacy by making room for multicultural artists to experiment in the graphic arts.
Artist and master printer Sam Coronado (1946–2013), founder of Coronado Print Studio and the Serié Project, was a leading and celebrated hands-on advocate for raising awareness of cultural diversity through printmaking. Inspired by his experience as an artist-in-residence at Self Help Graphics & Art in East Los Angeles, CA, Coronado founded Coronado Print Studio in Austin, TX, in 1991. In 1993, Coronado launched the Serié Project, an artist-residency program dedicated to promoting the art of serigraphy (a form of silkscreen printing) and highlighting the work of underrepresented artists.
Coronado Print Studio and the Serié Project together continue to provide a strong and lasting platform for established and emerging Latinx artists to reach new and expanding audiences while exploring and building the power and impact of their creativity. As of 2021, Coronado Print Studio and the Serié Project had sponsored more than 250 artists from various technical and cultural backgrounds.
The Hatch-Billops Collection first took shape in New York City in 1968, when visual artist Camille Billops (1933–2019) and her husband, James V. Hatch (1928–2020), were teaching art and literature at the City College of New York. While the Civil Rights Movement inspired an increase in racial consciousness and a corresponding demand for academic courses in Black American art, drama, and literature, the couple found that very little had been published on the history of African American cultural arts, and much that had been published was out of print. They began collecting primary-source materials for their students. Soon, artists and writers started to send material to Billops and Hatch for safekeeping. In 1975, the couple formally established the Hatch-Billops Collection, Inc., as a nonprofit research library located in their loft in Lower Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood.
In developing the Hatch-Billops Collection, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the couple conducted oral histories with Black artists in all disciplines. Billops built the collection further by photographing the works of Black artists in exhibitions and private collections. Hatch focused on collecting published and unpublished plays, set designs, theater programs, and historical and biographical works. Together, they assembled a library of books, periodicals, clippings related to Black cultural arts, photographs, slides, objects, works of art, and printed ephemera including posters, postcards, and calendars. From 1981 to 1999, Hatch-Billops published Artist and Influence: The Journal of Black American Cultural History. Their donation to Emory University in Atlanta, The Camille Billops and James V. Hatch Archives, is a premier collection for research in African American arts and letters in the 20th century. Hatch-Billops presented as gifts 13 prints by Billops over a period of years to Brandywine Workshop and Archives (BWA) in Philadelphia. In addition, Billops produced three prints as an artist in residence at BWA.
Franciscan nun and master printmaker Sister Karen Boccalero formally established Self Help Graphics (SHG) in 1976 in East Los Angeles. In 1970—during the height of the Chicano Civil Rights Movement—Boccalero was studying abroad in Rome, where she shared studio space and become close friends with Allan L. Edmunds, future founder of Brandywine Workshop and Archives (BWA). In the early 1990s, BWA and SHG exchanged a selection of 30 prints from their respective visiting-artist print collections and created an exchange program bringing SHG artists to BWA to produce lithographic prints.
SHG has long been one of the most highly recognized Latinx printmaking centers in the United States and beyond, producing the largest collection of Chicanx/Latinx fine art prints in history and building nationwide partnerships and international collaborations and cultural exchanges, fostering the creation and advancement of new limited edition fine art prints and monoprints by Chicanx and Latinx artists through an experimental, innovative, peer-led approach to printmaking that nurtures and encourages the imagination and advances artists’ careers. Through SHG’s cornerstone Professional Printmaking Program, more than 1,000 editions of silkscreen prints have been created by an ever-growing number of local and visiting artists.
Taller Experimental de Gráfica (Experimental Graphic Workshop) of Havana was founded in 1962 by mural artist Orlando Suarez (1926–1986) with the support of Che Guevara (1928–1967), who was Cuba’s minister of industry at the time. It is one of the most important workshops of its type, preserving traditional printmaking techniques and producing some of the most significant works of graphic art created by Havana’s talent-rich artist community in the modern and contemporary era.
From 1996 to 2000, under the direction of its master printer José Omar Torres López (b. 1953), Taller became the host organization for a series of annual visits by the Cuban-born, US-based artist Ricardo Viera (1945–2000), who was a professor of art and Director and Chief Curator of the Lehigh University Art Galleries Teaching Museum in Bethlehem, PA, and Allan L. Edmunds (b. 1949), President and Executive Director of Brandywine Workshop and Archives (BWA) in Philadelphia, PA. These cultural exchanges—visits to Cuba by Viera and Edmunds were complemented by residencies for Cuban artists at BWA—included printmaking workshops conducted by Viera and Edmunds in Taller’s studios, lectures at colleges and a high school in Philadelphia, and visits to other printmaking workshops and artist studios in Cuba and the US.
Paper and Media Archives and Ruth Fine Library
Housed primarily on the first-floor of the historic landmark Firehouse Building at 730 South Broad Street, the Paper and Media Archives represents more than 50 years of collecting résumés, brochures, catalogs, photographs, 35mm color slides, audio and video recordings, and digital media. Our collection of Artist Files features a compendium of handwritten and typed correspondence with artists, curators, and historians who have participated in BWA Visiting Artists Residencies or in the creation of wall murals, public-service art projects, BWA-based and traveling exhibitions, and international artist exchanges, along with information regarding our growing network of Satellite Collections—now numbering 19—established at art museums, universities, and heritage centers.
Honoring Ruth Fine, an accomplished artist and curator and avid supporter of BWA and its mission, the Ruth Fine Library offers numerous monographs, catalogues raisonné, exhibition catalogs, art history textbooks, art journals, and books documenting the history and development of printmaking as a fine-art form.