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Mildred Thompson, Quaver II (lithograph on paper)
Mildred Thompson (American, 1936-2003); Quaver II, 1989; lithograph on paper; museum purchase, 1994.7.29.

Approaching Abstraction is the first of two exhibitions that will spotlight a portfolio of lithograph prints from the Rolling Stone Press, a professional lithography atelier that operated in Atlanta, GA from 1984 until 2005. The founder, Wayne Kline, worked with regional and national artists to produce hand-printed, limited editions of each artist’s vision. Approaching Abstraction will celebrate artists in the portfolio such as Mildred Thompson, Arthur Deshaies, and Trena Banks, who mined the visual language of abstraction to produce energetically chaotic compositions.

Lithography or “stone printing” is a multistep process invented in the late eighteenth century that relies on the physics of water and grease opposing one another. An artist makes a drawing with a greasy material on the stone (usually limestone), and treats it with chemicals. Then, the image is etched over the treated stone, which is inked and run through a press to transfer the image to paper. The stone can be reinked to create editions (the number of impressions of the print) of the same image. The complicated nature of the process often means that an artist will rely on a printer to take their vision from drawing form into a finalized print.

The head printer and founder of Rolling Stone Press, Wayne Kline, was certified as a Master Printer from the Tamarind Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Originally founded as Tamarind Lithography Workshop, Inc. in Los Angeles in 1960, the Workshop wanted to save the “dying art of lithography.” In order to ensure its continued relevance, among its many goals, the Workshop trained master artisan-printers such as Kline and helped introduce a group of American artists to the medium. As a graduate of this program, Kline was adamant about introducing artists, especially Southeastern artists, to lithography, which he believed was “a different way for artists to think.”

This exhibition is organized by Telfair Museums and curated by Erin Dunn, Assistant Curator.

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