Who is Devraj?

Who is Devraj?

I think she works across the hall at the Elizabeth for the Arts Foundation’s Project Space. Pretty sure she’s the pretty girl with black hair who sits on a mac and has vocabulary to discuss contemporary art.

There is a post-it note with her phone numbers stuck to the mac desktop I’m sitting at.

Guess where?

I’m across the hall at the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop. Founded in 1948 by the printmaker and master printer Robert Blackburn, the shop has existed to provide access to fine-arts printmaking for almost 70 years. A screenprinted tshirt with an image of the African-American artist pushing a roller towards the viewer hangs on the wall near the plastic lunch table. They are available IN MANY COLORS! for $25.

Can you do me a big favor and buy me a black one?

Not yet, I am waiting on a package of newspaper clippings to arrive. An artist named Ronnie ran into me at the co-op. She asked where I worked, I told her RBPMW. She goes Oh, you know I knew Bob personally. Yes, that’s fine, I said. She’s mailing her collected clippings to the shop. Bob died in 2005, at the exact same time as JDilla.

At the same damn time?

No, I apologize, RIP. Robert Blackburn died in April of 2003. JDilla died in 2005. I’ve been acting pretty donuts lately.

Can you buy me a black one?

I’m not sure if they make donuts black. The print is a woodblock, and the ink is black. The relief looks good on grey, though. Bob Blackburn grew up in Harlem during the Depression. He attended the Arts League of New York and taught at Columbia University, Brooklyn College, Cooper Union, Pratt, NYU-name it. He studied lithography in 1941 with Will Benet and printed work for Helen Frankenthaler, Jasper Johns, and Robert Rauschenberg. He was a first-generation black american master printer making work with contemporary artists, many of whom were white.

Most people are white/

meow I’m covering double shifts as a monitor on a Friday night. I’m trying to trade my hours for a stone lithography class. As a monitor, I am supposed to track the demographics of the shop. It’s a general requirement for the shop’s non-profit funding. There are four white people (5 excluding myself), 1 asian, and 1 latino here now. The New York times says that when Bob founded his workshop; he “intended to attract an interracial clientele to the workshop. Participants included Faith Ringgold, Betye Saar, Juan Sanchez, Ursula von Rydingsvard, Kay WalkingStick and William T. Williams” (nytimes).

Betye Saar has a daughter, Allison. She was a visiting faculty artist at Skowhegan.

Yes, I am familiar with her work. Skowhegan is for painters and sculptors, they don’t have a press. What about late-20th Century artwork? Its is like a ghost print; the African American contemporary work lost through the press.

Not quite…

Okay, I haven’t been printing. But black artists still lack representation, I see that is changing. These days, the curator forgets to note the absence. A ghost of a ghost gets mad lost. The NY Times also says Bob was the first master printer at Universal Limited Art Editions on Long Island, but I was looking through their photographic history two days ago and I found not one photograph with a black artist. No photographs of the first master printer?

Who was in the photographs?

Helen Frankenthaler is wicked pretty by conventional standards, which makes me uneasy about my own appearance giving way to and or barring opportunities to make artwork. Robert Rauschenberg is pictured with a big smile on his face, and, oh, there’s Bob. My bad. One black artist is pictured: (bob)

Was he gay?

Oh my g you are annoying. I don’t know if he was gay. He was sexy though. I only recently found out James Baldwin was gay. Up until that point I had my hopes straight up. I’m looking at a print by Robert Colescott and wondering if sex with black men is transgressive. “I love you forever,” Colescott’s title is written under the woodcut. Two silhouettes face each other, one figure is black (printed grey) and the other is negative space; white. The densest black is between the two bodies. 



The densest black is between two bodies?

And the history of slavery in this country is recent. I’m not writing very correctly, I think I’m in love but I know I’m not

Writing very correctly?

Who is Devraj?

Litho starts in June.





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