21 Jan New scholarship program with the EFA Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop
We are honored to support scholarships for NEW Memberships at the renowned EFA Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop.
Sam Francis and Robert Blackburn worked on a print together (late 1950s see image) in what would be now called “remotely.” This was Francis’ earliest lithography experience and one that planted a seed for his love of printmaking for the entirety of his career. We are so proud to be a part of these two powerful artistic legacies and support the important educational practice of printmaking through the EFA Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop.
About the Workshop
EFA Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop (EFA RBPMW) is the oldest and longest-running community print shop in the United States. Not only a co-operative printmaking workspace that provides professional-quality printmaking facilities to artists and printmakers of every skill level, EFA RBPMW is committed to inspiring and fostering its diverse artistic community. Dedicated to the making of fine art prints in an environment that embraces technical and aesthetic exploration, innovation, and collaboration, EFA RBPMW seeks to improve the overall quality of fine art printmaking by providing low cost, unfettered access to printers, equipment, and education. It is with this spirit of openness and inclusion that Robert Blackburn’s vision of sustaining this welcoming, creative environment continues to serve as the backbone of the workshop today.
At the age of 14, Robert Blackburn (1920-2003) a son of Jamaican immigrant parents began attending community art centers, such as Harlem Arts Workshop, the Uptown Art Laboratory, and 306 Studio—later government-funded (FAP-WPA) Harlem Arts Community Center. Years later, this merge of civic and community was reflected in his own model for the printmaking workshop. After studying at Art Students League, in a post-war boom funding for these centers had ended and racial segregation continued. That is when Blackburn decided in late winter, 1947 to open his own workshop, The Printmaking Workshop, on 17th street – centering on his own experience of collaboration, experimentation, and a welcoming environment.
After 50 years, he received five honorary doctoral degrees, countless other honors, from Cooper Union, NYU and Skowhegan; and the MacArthur Genius Grant in 1992. His shop became a magnet for diverse international participants, resulting in a richly varied graphic output unlike any other workshop in the United States. Although Blackburn taught widely, was a highly respected color lithographer, and served as the first master printer for ULAE (Universal Limited Art Editions, where he printed the first 79 editions for artists including Helen Frankenthaler, Grace Hartigan, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and Larry Rivers) he remained dedicated to the Printmaking Workshop.
In 2002, as he began to suffer from health issues, Blackburn closed The Printmaking Workshop to re-opened in 2005 as Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop, a program of the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, to continue affordable access to traditional and experimental print techniques. Today, we continue to be the only community printshop in Manhattan with Stone Lithography.
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