SGCI in Knoxville, Tennessee, March 18 to 21, 2015.
April Vollmer’s photo album from Tennessee
April Vollmer promoting the book and talking with printmakers from across the country at the SGCI conference.
Building on prior conferences held in Knoxville in 1992 and 1995, the 2015 SGC International Printmaking Conference will include numerous exhibitions, 18 panel sessions, 9 INKubator sessions, more than 15 exchange portfolios, a mentoring program, a diverse product-publishers-program fair, the 2015-2018 SGCI Member Traveling Exhibition, 22 technical demonstrations, a full day of open portfolio sessions, and some unique special projects.
Artists, curators, collectors, gallerists, and print and Asian art enthusiasts will find April Vollmer’s remarkable publication, Japanese Woodblock Print Workshop, indispensable.
Vollmer considers the Japanese woodblock print (mokuhanga) as it reflects Japanese culture in a succinct history of the medium with a special focus on collaboration and superb craftsmanship, hallmarks of the ukiyo-e print in Edo and Meiji Japan. She emphasizes how the Japanese woodblock print can inspire artists in the 21st century by utilizing non-toxic, “green” materials, which readily combine with traditional processes and new printing technologies. With a selection of recent work she features contemporary artists, who creatively have reconsidered mokuhanga. Her comprehensive guide to traditional tools and materials (including an enlightening discussion of Japanese paper), and lucid, illustrated, step-by-step instructions on all aspects of cutting a block and pulling a print make this publication a uniquely invaluable manual and guide. Equally valuable to artists is her appendix listing supplies and suppliers, classes, residencies and conferences. I wish I had had this publication while Curator of a Western print collection with strong holdings of Japanese prints!
Roberta Waddell, Retired Curator of Prints, The New York Public Library
The mainstreaming of the Japanese term for woodblock prints, mokuhanga, stands as testament enough that its uncompromising techniques are gaining ground outside Japan, beyond cultural tradition and indigenous practice. To be sure, it is only in recent decades that studios, workshops, universities and other sites of production from San Francisco to Singapore, Helsinki to Toronto, have promoted the particular attributes of mokuhanga to attract broader interest. Along with the increasing appeal of its non-toxic methods, mokuhanga’s complex techniques born by demonstrated competence in hand skills, elaborate finessing of color, sheer physical stamina in the printing process, conscious manipulation of washi or other refined handmade papers, and overall flexibility for both individual and collaborative production offers new possibilities to the versatile 21st-century creator.
While coalescing a mass of cross-cultural, on-site technical know-how and vast swaths of creative inspiration from traditionally trained artisans to dynamic contemporary artists, April Vollmer’s Japanese Woodblock Workshop elucidates anew the multilayered world of mokuhanga. The effect is to not only to demystify, but also to broaden access to an art and craft that, when stripped down to its fundamentals, may be challenging yet pleasing in its materiality, portability and affordability, with the steady prospect for rich and unerringly handmade results. Moreover, Vollmer widens the path for mokuhanga today to accumulate new value abroad like ukiyo-e, mokuhanga’s earliest images to attract a committed following beyond East Asia, even as it has already begun to reshape the conceptualization of what it means to practice, produce—and appreciate—mokuhanga. Vollmer’s indefatigable efforts and enthusiasm to foster links east and west across the mokuhanga world as well as among the diverse makers, from the image itself to the multitude of materials that support it, identify a unique social environment that this art and craft fosters above all, revealing it as a welcome alternative in our remote, digitalizing and virtual world(s).
After a decade of teaching this material and collecting information, and over two years of intensive writing, including a very helpful residency in Japan, I submitted my manuscript to my editor at Watson-Guptill. After many further refinements on the part of my expert editor and designer, Japanese Woodblock Print Workshop is finally ready for printing. It is being sent to China this week!