Brandywine Workshop artists making an impression in Philly

The Brandywine Workshop is celebrating its 40th year of providing fine-art printing assistance and training to artists and would-be artists in Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is marking the anniversary with an exhibition of prints donated by the workshop.

“Full Spectrum: Prints from the Brandywine Workshop” comprises 54 prints by 53 artists, selected from a haul of 100 prints given to the art museum in 2009. They were donated in memory of the former CEO of the museum, Anne d’Harnoncourt, who died in 2008.

“There were a number of artists we didn’t have in the collection at all, or had only a small representation of, so that was a wonderful thing to celebrate,” said Shelley Langdale, associate curator of prints and drawings. “Including a number of Philadelphia artists.”

One of those artist is Moe Brooker, whose 2003 print “And Then…You Just Smile” is a rhythmic abstraction of colors and line patterns. He met the workshop’s founder, Allan Edmunds, while they were both graduate students at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art. Brooker briefly taught silkscreening at the workshop, and still returns to make prints.

“Every opportunity I get, I beg him to let me make a print. It’s that kind of environment. It causes creativity to happen. I started doing things that I’d never done before.” said Brooker, pointing to “And Then … You Just Smile” at the art museum. “That opened up doors for me in terms of marks and composition.”

The Brandywine Workshop was founded in 1972 as a place to encourage recent art school graduates to continue creating work. Recent graduates often have a hard time re-establishing a creative life outside of school, and Edmunds saw that was particularly true of minority artists.

The show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art is strong with prints by African Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans.

“No matter your background or ethnicity, you could relate to some individual, to somebody, or some art, or some process at Brandywine that resonated with your experience,” said Edmunds.

Several major artists have passed through the workshop, as teachers or printmaking clients, including muralist Isaiah Zagar, sculptor Mei-Ling Hom, and painter Sam Gilliam. The show at the art museum is one of a series of events related to the 40th anniversary. More information can be found here.

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