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Exploring the art of color printing

Octavio Medellin

Drawing on the resources of the Hamon Arts Library's Jerry Bywaters Special Collections, "Post Chiaroscuro: Prints in Color After the Renaissance" explores how color prints were made after the 16th century, when the technique known as chiaroscuro woodcut had been developed.

The exhibit continues in the library's Hawn Gallery through December 13. Samantha Robinson, a second year master's student in art history, is the exhibition's student curator. Sam Ratcliffe '74, head of the Bywaters Special Collections and exhibit coordinator for the gallery, provided assistance.

Print matrices, including metal plates and linoleum blocks, assorted proof impressions and finished prints give viewers insight into the painstaking printing process. The exhibit focuses on the works of Janet Turner (1914-1988) and Octavio Medellin (1907-1999) from the Bywaters Special Collections, as well as prints by James Gillray (c. 1756-1815), on loan from the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation in Houston.

The prints represent three main printing techniques: intaglio, in which the design is incised into the matrix; relief, in which the negative space around the design is cut away from the matrix surface; and planographic, a chemical process in which the matrix remains perfectly flat.

Students in two art history courses – "Arts: the History of Western Printmaking, 1400-1750" and "Early Modern Print" – taught by Lisa Pon, associate professor in Meadows School of the Arts, are using the exhibit for class assignments. Members of the general viewing public are invited to answer questions from the class assignments, which are available on gallery handouts. Responses from students in the class will be added while the exhibition is on view.

More information is available online at