(re)FOCUS@BWA: Prints by Women, Then and Now

Image: Belkis Ayón (Cuban, Afro-Latina, 1967–1999), Untitled II, 1999

(re)FOCUS@BWA: Prints by Women, Then and Now is Brandywine Workshop and Archives’ contribution to (re)FOCUS, Philadelphia’s extended, citywide celebration of women working in the visual arts not only in Philadelphia, but throughout the world. This amassing of exhibitions and related programs honors and extends the legacy of FOCUS: Philadelphia Focuses on Women in the Visual Arts, a historically significant feminist arts festival presented in 1974. 

Women artists have always been essential to the printmaking community nurtured by Brandywine, which was founded in October 1972 by Allan L. Edmunds as Brandywine Graphics Workshop. Brandywine first produced screen prints, with offset lithography added in 1982. A nonprofit atelier, Brandywine was intended from the start to produce prints by artists of diverse racial and ethnic heritages, gender, and economic circumstances, and with origins throughout the world. Brandywine’s Visiting Artist Residency Program was launched in 1975 with the eminent Washington, DC-based artist Sam Gilliam (1935–2023), who continued to collaborate with Brandywine until his passing.  

(re)FOCUS@BWA presents two dozen prints, one each by 24 of nearly 200 women artists of diverse heritages who have had residencies at Brandywine (the artists’ self-identified heritages are noted on the show’s object labels). Celebrated in (re)FOCUS@BWA are internationally acclaimed artists Emma Amos, Tomie Arai, Belkis Ayón, Camille Billops, Elizabeth Catlett, Barbara Chase-Riboud, Sonya Clark, Maya Freelon, Letitia Huckaby, Lois M. Johnson, Jean LaMarr, Samella Lewis, Yong Soon Min, E. J. Montgomery, Vitjitua Ndjiharine, Howardena Pindell, Betye Saar, Marta Sanchez, Hester Stinnett, Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum, Gayle Tanaka, Kaylynn Sullivan TwoTrees, Sarah Van Keuren, and Deborah Willis. 

The exhibited works were made between 1983 and 2023. They include screen prints and offset lithographs—the first processes used at Brandywine—along with more recently introduced, often technologically advanced methods that have expanded the possibilities of printmaking, including the creation of three-dimensional works. The artists worked with both in-house and independent master printers, who are credited on the object labels.  

Just two-years old at the time and not yet offering a residency program, Brandywine was not featured in the 1974 FOCUS festival. Brandywine has since received worldwide attention and high praise, making this exhibition an essential presence in the 2024 (re)FOCUS bonanza. 

In the late 1980s, Edmunds committed to establishing an archive collection of prints and related proofs. In addition to examples of all images made at Brandywine, its Archives include works completed at other ateliers, such as Self Help Graphics in Los Angeles, that emphasize diversity in the artists with whom they collaborate. Especially important are prints made with Robert Blackburn (1920-2023), founder of New York City’s Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop, who was among the most important printmakers in the United States during his lifetime, a mentor to Edmunds, and an inspiration for Brandywine. 

The most recent of Brandywine’s accomplishments is the establishment of Artura.org, which—while still in development—is already the most comprehensive multicultural art-education resource available online. Included on Artura are artists’ biographies, images of their visual accomplishments, and other illuminating resources that can be accessed by scanning the QR code accompanying each work here. 

(re)FOCUS@BWA: Prints by Women, Then and Now was inspired by Brandywine’s Executive Director, Michele A. Parchment. It was organized by Ruth Fine with Gustavo Garcia—Brandywine’s Associate Director for Artist Residencies


Jan 31 2024 - Apr 30 2024


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