The Tabloids (a Portfoldio)
How gratifying that 32 artists making ground-breaking work in the field of printmaking agreed to participate in an exhibition and exchange portfolio that I organized/curated entitled The Tabloids: A Portfoldio. [Note the “d” in Portfoldio.] Occasioning the portfolio and first exhibition thereof was the Southern Graphics Council International 2013 Conference in Milwaukee. Participants were invited to expand into three dimensions by including some folding or otherwise telescoping element in the pieces they created in the outrageously abundant editions of 38. This is an unusual premise for exchange portfolios, which tend to assume artists will create a traditional print that is single sided (or at most double) and just slightly smaller than the dimensions of the box. By contrast, artists making work for The Tabloids: A Portfoldio were encouraged (or actually required) to break “out of the box and off the wall,”* and expand as far as their imagination and skills could and would take them and their resulting works. Some artists created book structures, while others played with the potential for folding, in at least one case daring recipients to crumple masterfully printed archival artworks.
The container for this “boxed” set of prints is a tabloid rack designed to hold giveaways or “sellaways” in grocery stores. This format was chosen to reference a highly visible and accessible form of distribution, sprouting from the desire to see these wondrous works handled and wondered over rather than locked away in archival boxes for perpetuity safe from exposure to light or the grease and dirt on human hands, but also insulated from planting their seeds as widely as they otherwise might. Like greeting card racks in grocery stores, the Tabloids rack invites viewers to become further initiated as handlers, listeners, seal-breakers, and more.
*Thank you to David Kiehl, print curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art, for lighting a fire under printmakers within earshot of his call for us to un-frame ourselves offered during the University of Georgia’s 2001 Print Odyssey Conference in Cortona, Italy. Warm thanks also to all the artists who participated, to Hallmark Cards, Inc., for hosting this exciting exhibition and to Mark Spencer for all his work installing it, and to Kate Bingaman-Burt for hand-lettering the names of the artists for the title page and creating the Portfoldio logo.