Making impressions with ‘Prints’ at GRAM

Jan 24, 2017

500 years of art go on display today at the Grand Rapids Art Museum. Chief Curator Ron Platt gives some insight to "Prints and Processes."


There is a rather imposing building outside of the ice rink in downtown Grand Rapids. It’s the Grand Rapids Art Museum (or GRAM) and chief curator Ron Platt told me that the new exhibit, Prints and Processes, which opens today, is kind of an inside job at GRAM.
"Yeah, it's a spotlight on works from GRAM's collection," explains Platt "and it's over 50 prints that range from the 15th century to the 21st century. The focus is going to be on the different processes by which prints are made.

As for what makes up a print, "Well, a print is a graphic work that multiple impressions can be made. We think of part of our mission being to educate our audience and prints are something that's a strength of our collection where we have some real depth. To my knowledge, we haven't actually organized an exhibition that both looked at the artists work, but that looked at the different techniques that go into printmaking. So the show is organized into groups: etchings, woodcuts, silk-screens and so on."

While the exhibit Prints and Processes provides 500 years of examples of print making, Ron Platt thinks the Grand Rapids Art Museum can best showcase these works not by covering the minutiae of the crafting. "But what I can do is give people enough information about the different processed that they'll understand when they see that something is a lithograph, as opposed to an etching, or a silk-screen or a woodcut. That they'll be able to understand what those different distinctions are within printmaking."

But as chief curator of GRAM, what does Ron look forward to in this print exhibit?

"Well, I'm excited about a few things. We have 3 really phenomenal William Blake pieces in the show that were produced in 1826. They're engravings. a body of work he did about the Book of Job in the Bible. Some local artists that people like to see, like Weidenaar, who's a great Grand Rapids based maker of etchings."

And there are some examples of printmaking by more well-known names like Rembrandt, Picasso, and Andy Warhol, but there is one which seems to go super-sized.

It's about 10 feet long and has a very interesting sort of narrative component - Ron Platt on Yun-Fei Ji's print

"There's a contemporary artist named Yun-Fei Ji, and we have a really remarkable woodcut by him with hand-coloring. It's about 10 feet long and has a very interesting sort of narrative component to it that I love and always like to see, so there's hopefully there's something for everyone and then sort of the extra hook of the opportunity to learn something more about print-making and I know that there are some local educators both in high school and at university level who I know are going to be bring students. So I like it when we have an idea and it's sort of picked up on across Grand Rapids by other institutions and people."

Prints and Processes at the Grand Rapids Art Museum is open today and runs through June 25th. More information at artmuseumgr.org