Boston Public Library
Exhibitions

A Major Achievement: Mixit Print Studio at 25

Jane Goldman, Catherine Kernan, and Randy Garber

In the creation and success of Mixit Print Studio, Jane Goldman and Catherine Kernan have invested long experience, clarity of purpose, and total identification with the community of artists to which they belong. Celebrating the studio’s 25 years, Goldman, Kernan, and recently joined third partner Randy Garber stand with more than 100 artists who have worked in the studio since the doors opened in 1987.

Artists praise the studio. As one of them summarized: “Mixit Print Studio provides artists with quality equipment and a work space where there is an underlying current of respect for materials, tools and artistic visions.” In a brochure printed to accompany the 2006 exhibition Drama of Scale: Prints from Mixit Print Studio at Regis College, the founders describe the studio environment:

 The studio is 1,300 square feet lit by a wall of south-facing windows with a separate room for the sink, etching trays, spray booth, and solvent hoods. With everything on wheels, the studio can be re-configured as needed for both independent and collaborative American French Tool, a 24″ x 48″ Takach, and a 30″ x 60″ LeDeuil cast iron press imported from France. To ensure the safest environment, we encourage non-toxic alternatives whenever possible, such as soy-based solvents and water-based inks. Vent hoods, moveable fans, and many windows provide ventilation. Large tables and counters provide surfaces for both “clean hands” and “dirty hands” work. We have a metal shear, an aquatint box, a light exposure setup, an airbrush, a large variety of rollers, vertical etching tanks, and a custom designed forced-air print dryer. We provide solvents, rags, flat, and cubby storage. Each artist is responsible for inks, paper, plates, blotters, and personal supplies.

tarletonsd-pp During a conversation in preparation for this brief essay, Catherine Kernan gave additional insight: “We’re not a contract studio. Artists come here to work independently. They bring their own ink and their own paper and do their own printing. We rent to artists in three-month blocks, but we prefer an extended commitment to encourage the sense of community. Some artists have printed with us for the entire 25 years of the studio’s existence.” This last sentence suggests the collegial atmosphere of the place. Like other graphic arts workshops—Mixit is described by its founders as “a professional monoprint/ intaglio/woodcut studio”—the atmosphere at Mixit is one of concentrated engagement. At any given time, you might discover only one or two artists quietly and purposefully going about their business. At other times, the studio is quite busy and energized as artists work at the presses and prepare plates.

Mixit is also a teaching institution that holds a variety of workshops each year. In its daily functioning, it is a mixit-studio-1 remarkable combination of the individualism of artists at work and the teamwork that created the workshop and makes possible its adaptation to varying specific needs. In writing about Mixit, I draw on my own experience in Ray Nash’s Graphic Arts Workshop at Dartmouth College where I got my start for a career as a print curator. In the workshop, students practiced Renaissance calligraphy, learned to set type, and made woodcuts—sometimes also copperplate prints and stone lithographs. They learned to print type and type-high woodcuts locked up together in forms. At the Boston Public Library, one of my principal collecting projects during my over 43 years as Keeper of Prints was the building of a collection of more than 10,000 drawings, watercolors and prints by more than 1,000 living artists with ties to Boston. The world at large does not know—but many American artists do know—that Greater Boston is a major center of printmaking. It is this level of skill and sophistication which artists bring to Mixit Print Studio.

Sinclair Hitchings

Keeper of Prints Emeritus

Boston Public Library