A collaborative investigation

Island Press is nationally renowned for innovative prints and multiples

Over the last four decades, Island Press — part of the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis — has earned a national reputation for publishing complex, large-scale prints and multiples that explore new materials and innovative techniques.

“Every semester, Island Press invites an artist-in-residence to come for a week and produce a unique work,” said Meredith Malone, associate curator for the university’s Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, which maintains the Island Press archive.

Though many projects are two-dimensional, Island Press also has produced a growing number of sculptural and even participatory artworks, added Malone, who curated the  spring exhibition “Island Press: Recent Prints.” (The exhibition closes Monday, April 16.)

“The key idea is that it’s a collaborative investigation,” Malone said. Working with director Lisa Bulawsky, master printer Tom Reed and a team of undergraduate and graduate assistants, visiting artists are able to think through initial ideas, survey different technical options and expand their own studio practices.

“Everybody who’s engaged in that process learns something,” Malone said.

South African artist Diane Victor, who served as the Arthur L. and Sheila Prensky Island Press Visiting Artist earlier this semester, called Island Press “one of the most amazing print studios I’ve ever seen in a university environment.

“You’re working in a professional studio,” Victor said. “But at the same time, you’re looking at what students are doing, and they’re getting a chance to see what you’re doing. And I really enjoy that.”