“Chipping the Block, Painting the Silk: The Color Block Prints and Serigraphs of Norma Bassett Hall” is on view from August 23 to October 12, 2014
EUGENE, Ore. -- (July 29, 2014) – The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art presents the work of Oregon-born Norma Bassett Hall’s 25 year career as a printmaker from August 23 to October 12, 2014. As the first solo exhibition of Hall’s work since her death in 1957, “Chipping the Block, Painting the Silk: The Color Block Prints and Serigraphs of Norma Bassett Hall” is the first opportunity to see more than sixty of her prints in Oregon since just five were shown in a 1930 group retrospective at the Portland Art Association.
Works exhibited for the first time include one of the cherry woodblocks for “Navajo Land;" “Washerwoman of Biot” and “Rugsellers at Rest,” black and white block prints; and several color prints on loan from private collections. Also on view is a hand-made book of color block prints depicting the Oregon coast. This ribbon-bound book was jointly made by Hall and her husband, artist Arthur William Hall (American, 1889-1981), on the occasion of their marriage in 1922.
Guest curator Joby Patterson, a researcher and teacher, has been involved with fine prints for more than thirty years. After researching black and white intaglio prints for “Bertha E. Jaques and the Chicago Society of Etchers” (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2002), Dr. Patterson’s new interests turned to color. Her upcoming book, “Norma Bassett Hall: Catalogue Raisonné of the Block Prints and Serigraphs” (Pomegranate Communications, available August 2014), traces the creative life of Hall and her spouse.
Patterson will share her adventures in uncovering Hall's life and work and lead a tour of the exhibition on Saturday, August 23, at 2 p.m. A reception and book signing will follow.
Hall, who was born in Halsey, Oregon, in 1888, was a watercolorist and oil painter, but her greatest love was color printmaking. After studying at the Portland Art Association and graduating from the Art Institute of Chicago, she spent two years in Europe, where she learned the skills of block printmaking. She returned to live in Kansas, where she was a member of the Prairie Print Makers, and later New Mexico, where she became part of the pioneer movement in the development of the technique of serigraphy, or silkscreen.
Hall was educated in early twentieth century America, when the Arts and Crafts movement was taking over the arts scene. This training is revealed not only in the carving of a cherry woodblock as a form of craft, but in the Japanese-influenced style and interpretation of her subjects. As was typical of an Arts and Crafts artist, Hall found inspiration in the diverse landscapes that she encountered in her extensive travels. She loved figural representation, particularly of foreign subjects, and she always explored the possibilities of color.