In Our Gallery: The Last Picture Show

Printmakers Inc founder Phyllis Cohen has the solo spotlight for March and April with her exhibition, The Last Picture Show. After 37 years, Phyllis is retiring from active involvement with Printmakers Inc this May. Member artist Carolyn Witschonke sits down with Phyllis to talk about her current show, her unique approach to woodcuts, and more…

Carolyn Witschonke: This is your last show as a member of Printmakers Inc and you are one of the founding members. What made you start this 37 year old workshop?

Phyllis Cohen: MarianVan Landingham asked Barbara Romney and me to start a printmaking workshop at the factory.

Phyllis Cohen putting a print plate together at the press

CW:  What made you choose woodcut as your preferred medium?  And how are they done?

PC:  A friend, Nancy Reinke, did marvelous woodcut prints and I was inspired by her work. I chose a different way of using the block…a “jigsaw puzzle” fashion. I wanted to do color and devised this method so I could ink each piece separately and in as many different colors as I wanted.  After thinking of an image I can then picture them in big and small jigsaw pieces according to what the work suggests.  Some pieces are incised, solid and sometimes even a second block is printed over, for example: stripes.

CW:  As I look around the gallery space I see a variety of images from your past career. Can you tell me a little about some of these pieces? What was your inspiration?

PC:  I work in a series looking for things that would work well with my woodcut method like my basket series, or landscapes and most recently limericks that I wrote when the kids were little. With the limericks an interesting challenge was that the letters had to be cut backwards which is different say from screenprinting.

Jigsaw woodcut by Phyllis Cohen

 CW:  What event associated with Printmakers Inc stands out in your memory?

PC:  Wow, there are so many!  Too many to limit it to one.  But for me the best part was the people, working with other printmakers, and meeting and working with many different artists over the years.

CW:  What recommendations would you make to the group now that you are leaving?

PC:  Keep it up! And don’t give up!

Phyllis Cohen at the press

CW:  Will you continue to sell your prints if someone contacts you directly?  How would they do that?

PC:  Just call or visit Printmakers in studio 325. Visit the website: tfpi.org or call at 703 683 1342

CW:  Printmakers thanks you for this interview, but most of all for all the contributions you have made to us.  We couldn’t have done it without you!!

The Last Picture Show
Solo exhibition by Phyllis Cohen
March 1 – April 30, 2012
Studio 325 at the Torpedo Factory
11 am to 6 pm daily

Reception: Sunday, April 1, 2012, 2-4 pm

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