Printmaking in an Age of Political Dissonance

Eric Goldberg, Second Amendment Special (2016), etching/aquatint, 14 x 11 inches. Edition of 20. Printed and published by the artist, Philadelphia, PA.

The 2016 presidential election caused a heightened state of political and ethical awareness among many artists, and its outcome has occasioned broad reflection on society and art’s role within it. As an activist artist and member of the 70-year-old Boston Printmakers, I helped organize the group’s recent exhibition, “2016, A State of Mind,” for which we invited members to submit work addressing a host of contemporary sociopolitical challenges: “Energy conservation, wealth opportunity, LGBT rights, global warming, issues of national security, immigration, animal rights, voter suppression [and] issues of privacy are some of the concerns facing our diverse community.”1

Our plan was to create “a reasoned, well placed forum for the issues at hand” that would offer viewers an alternative means of gathering information. The prompt was sent out in late 2015, and throughout the rancorous primary season, prints poured in from across the United States, as well as from Cuba and Canada. When the exhibition went on view at Phillips Exeter Academy’s Lamont Gallery, more than half the organization’s members—some 148 artists—were represented.

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  1. The Boston Printmakers, “A State of Mind: 2016 Members Show, Prospectus.” First published on the BP website in 2015. []