Professor of Art and Impact 4 Conference Coordinator
School of Art
1715 Volunteer Blvd.
University of Tennessee
Knoxville, Tennessee, 37996-2410 USA
Conference Statement: "Making Kontakt"
Through my experience in organizing Southern Graphics Council Conferences in Knoxville (1992 and 1995) and New Orleans (2002), I have come to appreciate the importance of conferences in bringing artists together. The delegates attending this conference are characterized by many differences; culture, nation, continent, religion, educational background, print techniques, artistic philosophy, levels of professional experience, to name a few. What we all share in common is a commitment to, and practice of printmaking. On a certain level we are all members of a nation of printmakers.
Last year I wrote an article for Graphic Impressions (the Journal of the Southern Graphics Council) about "Printmaking as a Gift Economy." For intellectual, cultural and scientific communities, this is the most important and enduring economy, as it is one that has potential to contribute in enduring ways to our ideas about the world and ourselves. Participants in gift economies are motivated, not by financial gain, but by contributing to the ideas that define our time. Working on this conference is one way that I have strived to contribute to the gift economy of printmaking.
The themes that define this conference speak for themselves. The various sessions which comprise this conference, reflect conversations and emails between members of the Conference Steering and Planning Committees as well as the proposals we received in February 2005. It is a momentous time to hold this conference in both Berlin and Poznan, given that this is the 60th anniversary of the end of WWII as well the inclusion of Poland in the European Union. Berlin is the birthplace of Walter Benjamin whose writings from the early 20th century still have currency for us today. Poland has a rich tradition in the graphic arts, which we will celebrate, including the contributions of Krakow International Printmaking Triennial.
Of course I do not expect everyone to agree in their interpretations of the themes and issues that comprise this conference. This is a good thing, and printmaking will be made stronger though our agreements and disagreements. One topic that several of the papers address is whether printmaking is marginalized by its institutional systems, including international printmaking competitions, community-based print workshops, printmaking journals, or even conferences such as this one. These forms of discipline-based “kontakt” have value and meaning. At the same time we will also hear about forms of “kontakt” that use printmaking to reach out to broader communities as well as academic and scientific disciplines. These too have meaning, and show us how interdisciplinary printed art can be.
We will also face the challenges of conducting the sessions in English, the risk of British and American delegates dictating dialogue during the conference, and different levels of access to travel funds to participate in this conference. I hope all of the delegates will be mindful of this, and encourage the native English-speaking delegates to strive to use clear, direct English, conscious that there will be many delegates for whom English is not their first language. Despite our many differences, I hope all of the delegates will strive to appreciate those things we share in common, as well as our differences.
I would like to acknowledge the sponsoring institutions as well as the host institutions in Berlin and Poznan for their support of the conference. They are listed at the back of this program. Assistance from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville was also essential, especially in funding an summer assistantship for my superb graduate student Shaurya Kumar to help with the many details involved in planning the conference. I am also very grateful to the members of the Conference Steering and Advisory Committees who are listed in this program. Their wisdom, cooperation and energy is evident in IMPACT 4.
To foster attendance, the registration fee for this conference is less than half of previous IMPACT conferences. Each of you who paid the registration fee has helped to support this week-long celebration of printmaking. These monies help to underwrite the program, receptions, staff for events and some of the exhibition costs. In so doing, you are helping to support this gift economy.
Planning for this conference began three years ago when I was a Fulbright Lecturer at the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznan. Since then the shape of this project has evolved, much like a work of art. In many respects this conference is as much about process than it is about product. While it will be documented by a conference program, and later by conference proceedings, it will be impossible to measure the many outcomes, both personal and professional for each of the delegates. IMPACT-KONTAKT will be what each and every delegate makes of it, and for this I thank each of you who participating. Through your presence you enliven the practice of printmaking and book arts. This gives meaning to "Making Kontakt.”
BEAUVAIS LYONS is a Professor of Art at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville in the United States since 1985 where he teaches printmaking. Lyons received his MFA degree from Arizona State University in 1983 and his BFA degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1980. See his web site (web.utk.edu/~blyons) for information on his projects as a fake curator through the Hokes Archives. His art involves fabricating artifacts that are then documented through color lithographs to create imaginary histories, archaeology, biography and science. Lyons’ one-person exhibitions have been presented in recent years at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, USA; and Nowy Oficia Gallery, Gdansk, Poland. He has published articles about print theory and pedagogy in Contemporary Impressions and Printmaking Today, about art censorship in American Universities in the Art Journal and about his studio work in Archaeology and The Chronicle of Higher Education. His prints are in the collections of the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, DC; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia. PA. In the United States he has been active with the Southern Graphics Council, serving as President, Editor of Graphic Impressions, and helping to organize their conferences in 1992 and 1995 in Knoxville and 2002 in New Orleans. In 2002 he received a Fulbright Fellowship to teach at the Fine Arts Academy in Poznañ, Poland, which helped to initiate this conference. He has been a presenter at IMPACT I in Bristol and IMPACT 3 in Cape Town. He has served as the chair of the IMPACT 4 Conference Steering Committee.
Planning Meeting in Poznan, July 2003