March 6, 2008
Contact: Caroline Jenkins Hanna
Director of Media Relations
AMHERST, Mass.—Sunday, March 9, from noon to 1 p.m., the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College will host a gallery talk titled “The Chuck Close Assembly Line,” in conjunction with the current exhibit on display, Chuck Close: Self-Portrait/Scribble/Etching Portfolio, 2000. The talk, which describes the behind-the-scenes work of three young artists who produced 22 woodblocks for one of Close’s self-portrait prints, is free and open to the public.
In the summer of 2006, Ali Osborn, Raphy Griswold and Teddy O’Connor were hired to carve 22 large-scale woodblocks for a Japanese ukiyo-e print by Chuck Close. Such work is not usual: throughout art history, from Raphael’s tapestries to Jeff Koons’s floral “Puppy,” large-scale artwork has often been produced entirely by teams of artisans with the credited artist never having “made” any part of the finished work. The Close project took the entire summer, with the three assistants working tirelessly to deliver the blocks on time for an artist whom they would never actually meet.
Besides discussing their own experiences working on a print by a master artist, Osborn, Griswold and O’Connor hope to shed further light on the often-confusing processes of printmaking. The three will discuss Japanese ukiyo-e printmaking, how it differs from traditional woodblock printmaking, the particular types of tools and specific carving techniques used and the sometimes-overwhelming tedium of working on such large blocks of wood—not to mention the bottles of iodine and boxes of bandages they went through.
“The chance to share these young artists’ fascinating—and often hilarious—stories about their experiences carving a woodblock for Chuck Close seems a perfect complement to the exhibition, which explores Close’s extraordinary techniques of printmaking in some depth,” said director of the Mead Art Museum Elizabeth Barker.
The Mead Art Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Thursday evening until 9 p.m. For more information, visit the museum’s Web site, www.amherst.edu/mead, or call 413/542-2335.