Paul asked me to describe and evaluate my experience as an intern at Renaissance Press for the benefit of artists seeking an intensive introduction to photographic printmaking. I will emphasize what Paul expects of an intern and what an intern can expect to do and learn.
I began my two-month internship at Renaissance Press shortly after receiving my MFA. I had concentrated on studio art in graduate school and had been a photographer for 18 years. I have been intrigued by photogravure and other historic processes since I first saw prints published by Alfred Stieglitz in his Camera Work Journals. My printmaking professor urged me to get my introduction to photographic printmaking from Paul Taylor, a leading practitioner, teacher, innovator and, publisher who uses these disciplines.
Many of Paul’s interns are, like me, fresh out of MFA programs. He has accepted a few exceptionally well-recommended college juniors and seniors.
I learned both theory and practice by listening to and observing Paul make prints and by creating prints of my own photographs, both with and without guidance. The theory of each process was carefully explained before, during and after printing sessions. This didactic method fostered superb prints time and again. There is no substitution for this approach combined with hands-on work. It was fascinating for me a relative beginner to printmaking, to observe him presenting this technique during workshops to professionals and amateurs with widely varied backgrounds, interests and skills. And, as I gained more experience, I had the satisfaction of assisting Paul teach during the workshops.
I was blessed with long stretches of time when all of the wonderful facilities of Renaissance Press were available to me alone, yet with criticism and advice just a moment away. Paul takes the learning experience of being an intern seriously. I made many prints during my internship in a variety of processes including copper plate photogravure, photopolymer, and platinum palladium.
I learned more than the basics, I learned ways to push and interweave a variety of processes outside of their established norms. A very important technique I learned from Paul while at Renaissance Press was the digital film linearization process. Without beautiful film crafted for each specific process the resulting prints cannot live up to their potential. Paul developed a method of using dedicated black and white printer inks to create films of incredible smoothness that fit each unique process, the artist’s methodology and the equipment used. His method is so finely tuned that we were able to teach a copper plate photogravure workshop using a single acid etch. A truly rare feat! He has been working with this digital film method for over 12 years and has taught me how to create film that I never thought would have been possible.
Renaissance Press is more than a working press. Paul is a publisher, an artist, a teacher and is constantly experimenting and innovating. Housed in a renovated early-1800’s barn, on view is an eclectic and diverse collection of prints. The walls are lined and drawers are filled with images by many unique and innovative artists. It has been an inspiration to work here.
There is plenty of mundane work to do at Renaissance Press, such as cleaning the studio, fetching the mail and sending off finished contract work, maybe grilling dinner on the deck overlooking the Ashuelot River, running errands in Keene, NH or Brattleboro, VT, watering the vegetable garden, or playing with the cat. Though Paul and his studio are in high demand, he makes sure there is plenty of free time as well. Ashuelot is a bucolic hamlet whose main claim to fame is the most-photographed covered bridge in New Hampshire. The beautiful Mount Pisgah State Park, with sparkling lakes and miles of wonderful trails for hikers and mountain bikers is just across the road. An old railway trail starts just across the bridge and runs down along the river. From the deck I have seen Great Blue Herons, Bald Eagles, King Fishers, Bats, Minks, duckling families, incredible sunsets and, have reveled in the sound and reflection of light from the river below.
Natali S. Barbee MFA. The City College of New York 2016
The Provost Prize in Art, The City College of New York 2016 - 2017
Intern, Renaissance Press, Summer, 2016
Printer / Assistant, Renaissance Press 2016 -