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Exhibits & Events

(left to right) Nancy Hellebrand, Untitled BO 8943, 2024; Stephanie Santana, Safe Passage, 2024; Shawn Inglima; Martie Zelt, Untitled, 1980. Courtesy of Brandywine Workshop and Archives.

The Print Center is pleased to present three solo exhibitions featuring artists whose interests in image-making go hand-in-hand with their shrewd and responsive uses of artistic materials.


EVERYBODYBEAUTIFUL presents a selection from Nancy Hellebrand’s ongoing series, “Naked,” begun in 2017, of nude portraits of older women. This work skillfully explores societal norms around beauty, gender and age. Reflecting upon her experiences as an aging woman, the artist recognized that societal perceptions of her intellect and beauty had diminished despite her blossoming sense of self, her growing appreciation of the people around her and her invigorated political drive. With this series, Hellebrand captures the physical truth of aging with great compassion, respect and admiration. As she states, “We see women’s stories embedded in their flesh.” This exhibition presents Hellebrand’s images on delicate paper and on plaster, printed as tonally rich photogravures, a 19th century photomechanical process initially used to produce high-quality commercial reproductions. Today, artists value its ability to capture minute detail, to hold rich tones and to bestow a visual softness that results in an enchanting picture unlike any other process.

The artist welcomes models of all sizes, races and abilities, and makes a great effort to provide a comfortable working atmosphere for her sitters so she can capture them in their most relaxed state. After the photography sessions, many came to understand that their aged bodies were worthy subjects, often changing the attitude they brought into the endeavor. In the words of one sitter, “Going against the cultural grain, [Hellebrand] did not want to photograph youthful beauty. Instead, she used scars, stretch marks, folds and lumps to reveal the stories of women who birth children, endure disease and enjoy worldly pleasures.” By photographing the women from the neck down, Hellebrand focuses the viewer’s attention solely on the landscape of the body. Whether on paper or plaster, these meticulously crafted photogravures affirm the artist’s commitment to presenting these bodies as worthy and beautiful subjects.

Stephanie Santana: Ways of Knowing

In Ways of Knowing, Stephanie Santana’s prints and constructed mixed-media textile works explore interior worlds, mythologies, navigational tools and resistance strategies of African diasporic origins. The works are part of a larger body called “The Wayfinding Series,” which Santana began in 2022 and describes as “honoring Black women as wayfinders, planners, travelers, strategists, timeline jumpers and archivists.” With it, she endeavors to visualize and understand what her Black matriarchal ancestors experienced on an intuitive and emotional level and examine how their concerns are relevant in the present day.

Santana’s process is one of discovery and deliberation. Over time, the artist has assembled a working archive comprising personal photographs of her own childhood and cherished women in her extended family, along with historical vernacular photographs of anonymous Black matriarchs. The same women appear multiple times within a single work and reappear across multiple pieces. The artist describes her decision-making process on materials and techniques to employ as a sequence of “responsive encounters” with these photographs. The images are transferred and translated several times over; they are screenprinted and monoprinted onto fabric that is then reused in numerous ways using traditional quilting techniques. To this, she adds hand-stitched embroidery, much like a series of visual annotations that directly engage with both the figures on the surface and the colorful abstract forms surrounding them.

Through the processes of printing, sewing and embroidery, the artist meditates on the lessons absorbed through this labor-intensive work. Santana asks herself and her audience, “How is information transmitted, and how does it change shape, shift and distort as it is passed?” Her printed textile works construct a bridge through time and geography. Information is revealed, prescribed societal roles are challenged, and alternative spaces of knowledge and self-definition are discovered.

Martie Zelt: Land Strider

Land Strider surveys Martie Zelt’s lifetime of work in printmaking and handmade paperworks, focused on her innovations in these processes during the 1970s and 80s. The exhibition’s title, Land Strider, is drawn from one of the artworks in the show as an apt description of both Zelt’s nomadic life between the regions of Philadelphia and New Mexico, and her primary artistic interests in rural and urban topographies.

Zelt was the first artist in Philadelphia to embrace photoscreenprinting techniques for creating fine art prints. Her large geometric abstractions feature reduced forms and bold colors. After an encounter in 1976 with papermaker Joe Wilfer of the Upper U.S. Paper Mill in Wisconsin, Zelt further embraced tactility, and started making her own paper from pulp. The introduction of handmade paper directly into her prints, sometimes as a support and, on other occasions, as independent abstract elements, had a monumental impact. Geometric shapes remained at the center of her visual language but, over time, lost their hard edges, rigidity and angularity. Zelt commented, “The segmentation and geometry in my work has never been disassociated from notes taken from the natural world around me.” These new, highly textured paperworks appear as complex topographies that recall the cultures of the two places she alternately called home – Philadelphia and New Mexico – as viewed from above.

During the mid-1980s, Zelt’s relationship to print and papermaking advanced again. She began to draw upon even more dynamic materials – including store-bought fabrics, fake fur, sequins, glitter, Velcro snaps, acrylic paint, fishhooks, metal hinges, twine, machine sewing, linen thread – and layered them with numerous printmaking techniques – lithography, photoetching, woodcut, collagraphy and Xerox – within a single work hung from a wooden dowel. With the embrace of these varied and sundry materials, her landscapes incorporated the detritus of everyday life. Zelt commented, “You can’t look at my work like you do a picture. I don’t use printing for imagery, but rather for texture and color in the same way that I use the surface of handmade paper.” The mesmerizing prints and paperworks shared in Land Strider are a testament to Martie Zelt’s lifelong commitment to pursuing creative fulfillment and innovation.

The Print Center is grateful to Catherine De Maria of Warehouse 1-10 in Magdalena, New Mexico, for facilitating the loan of Martie Zelt’s final artwork, Untitled, 2023, for display in this commemorative exhibition.



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Exhibition Documentation

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