Print Portfolio Co-Curated by Island University Art Professor Set to Enter Library of Congress Collection

By Richard Guerrero | Published: December 11, 2020

Print Portfolio Co-Curated by Island University Art Professor Set to Enter Library of Congress Collection

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A printmaking portfolio co-curated by Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Associate Professor of Art Ryan O’Malley, featuring the work of 10 artists based in the United States and 10 artists based in Iran, has been included into the permanent collection of the United States Library of Congress.

O’Malley collaborated with Tehran-based artist Mehdi Darvishi over the course of two years to complete “Mutual Language,” featuring prints created in a variety of techniques ranging from relief, screenprint, and intaglio.

The print portfolio, an exchange between a group of printmakers, is a tradition that dates to the Renaissance as a way for technique and content to circulate widely, influencing artists across vast geographic landscapes, O’Malley said.

“One or multiple people propose a title or theme and curate a number of artists who then make an image corresponding to the theme. Each artist creates multiple exact prints according to the number of participants, often plus a few extra for exhibition or inclusion into a collection,” O’Malley said. “Once completed, all participants send their prints to the curator, who collates and sends the completed portfolios back so that each participant gets a print from every artist plus their own.”p-cla-art+design-omalley-mutual-language-library-of-congress

O’Malley first became acquainted with Darvishi’s work through Facebook and Instagram; in addition, both artists were featured in the International Mezzotint Festival, an exhibition held biennially in Russia centered on the mezzotint engraving technique. O’Malley said he became aware of numerous Iranian printmakers via correspondence with Darvishi.

“I’m very curious about print communities across the world, so I asked Mehdi if he would be interested in co-curating this portfolio,” O’Malley said. “In discussing a theme, we settled on Mutual Language as printmaking, and art in general, communicates across languages, cultures, nationalities, etc.”

Mutual Language includes prints from American artists based in Texas, Oklahoma, Illinois, and Colorado. It also includes a color etching by Cassie White, Island University Adjunct Professor of Art.

The portfolio was on display in Bell Library in January and February this year and previously was featured as part of the 2018 Mid-American Print Conference in Laramie, Wyoming. That same year, Mutual Language was exhibited in the Dawson City Print and Publishing Festival in Dawson City, Yukon Territory, Canada, where O’Malley and White were invited to host a workshop and give lectures. In Tehran, Mutual Language has exhibited in O Gallery and the Shirin Gallery.

Prior to Mutual Language, O’Malley curated a portfolio in 2010 as part of a broader group called “States of the State.” That portfolio is now in the permanent collection of the Art Museum of South Texas (AMST).

“Each portfolio in this comprehensive series showcased U.S.-based artists working in the four major printmaking processes: lithography, intaglio, screenprint, and relief, plus a special set including mezzotint artists (of which I curated), as there was a small revival occurring in the process during that time,” he said.

In the classroom, O’Malley said print portfolios provide an ideal way to inspire students in real time with physical artworks they can study prior to learning a technique or see a vast array of creative interpretations of a theme.

O’Malley said he is incredibly honored to have one of his projects available to the public at large in the US Library of Congress.

“I’m glad that a set of these prints will be cared for and accessible amongst all of the incredible works and artists in the collection,” he said. “It’s also particularly important to recognize that despite the relationship between our respective governments, we are kindred as people and are happy to share of ourselves with one another.”