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Untitled (Helper Print),

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Lloyd Menard

American, Born 1938

Untitled (Helper Print), c.1990
Master printer - Kevin Garber
Woodcut
Handmade paper, Arches black
44"h x 35"w
Series of unique prints
 
 
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In 1989, Joan Hall went to South Dakota to make a print with Lloyd Menard at the University of South Dakota. Her experience there created a tremendous change in the environment at the Washington University Collaborative Printmaking Workshop.(1) Menard, as the master printer in South Dakota, had not one or two students assisting him, which was the procedure in St. Louis, but an entire team of students who worked with him in producing the print. In fact, his undergraduate and graduate students were required to assist a visiting artist in order to finish their degrees.

For a week, Hall worked with Menard and his students, first making paper and then her prints. Through this experience, Hall later recalled, "I learned how to direct the students to do different aspects [of the work] – inking, tearing paper, etc…we could realize Peter’s [Marcus] wish to make the contract shop something different. By involving the students and faculty we could realize more complex projects and introduce papermaking."(2)

Hall was further impressed with the energy in Menard’s shop. The opportunity that was afforded the students who actually helped to make the prints allowed them to get into the artist’s mind to watch their thinking and problem solving. As a result, the students learned that they, too, could tackle seemingly unsolvable obstacles with positive results.(3) Hall believed that this was the critical element of an education and, as a teacher, she could make this happen in St. Louis as well. She returned to Washington University revitalized.

Hall soon re-organized the operations at WUCPW and took the master printer, Kevin Garber, out of the isolation of the small space that had been assigned to the shop. Additionally, Marcus and Hall were both assuming a greater involvement in the production of prints, encouraging the visiting artists to make collagraphs rather than lithographs. Collagraphs were a far more labor-intensive process, requiring faculty and even returning alumni, to assist the master printer. The first person that was invited to WUCPW after Hall’s return to St. Louis was Lloyd Menard.(4) Hall recalled that he was actually invited as a visiting artist so "we could watch him orchestrate our students." (5) Garber worked with the students under his direction on Menard’s prints in the larger facilities of the printmaking department.(6) Menard arrived with a pile of large ready-to-be-printed handmade papers measuring four by seven feet. He worked for a week making a series of very large, unique prints. Unfortunately, those prints were destroyed in a gallery fire in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and all that is left of the week he spent in St. Louis are the small helper prints. Nevertheless, the Menard experience was cathartic for the St. Louis shop, and the Department was energized with the new way of working.

Marilyn Kushner
Curator and Chair of the Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs
Brooklyn Museum of Art
 
1 Island Press was originally known as the Washington University Collaborative Printmaking Workshop until the name was changed in 1996
2 E-mail from Joan Hall to the author, 27 December 2001. Previously, paper was
not made in the collaborative shop but only in the printmaking department.
3 In print shops, normally the master printer will receive a "printer’s proof" for work done on the edition. In Menard’s shop, in addition to the master printer receiving the printer’s proof, each student received a "helper print." Hall brought this practice to the shop at Washington University. A "helper print" was most often a special edition or print made specifically for students.
4 Menard went to WUCPW in 1990.
5 E-mail from Joan Hall to the author, 27 December 2001.
6 At this point, Peter Marcus was the Director of the WUCPW, but Hall, who had been in the Department for more than ten years, was wielding a great deal of influence in the decision making.