‘Let’s share something’: Transylvania gallery’s print exchange connects in time of distancing

Guest author Anthony Mead is director of Transylvania University’s Morlan Gallery and has a background in printmaking. Submit works for the “Near and Far” print exchange and exhibition by Sept. 8.

The Morlan Gallery’s “Near and Far” print exchange comes from a variety of coinciding needs, movements and crises: the global pandemic, powerful social justice movement, turbulent political climate and major economic downturn, which directly and indirectly impact our lives — all of our lives.

As human beings, we are inherently community based. Whether we are introverts or extroverts, in the end, no matter what, we have people that we love and care about. We have those we seek to comfort, and we must take care of ourselves as we move forward day by day. That is where the question that is the theme of the exhibition comes from: “How do we sustain ourselves and others emotionally and physically?”

The coronavirus pandemic has altered so much of our daily lives, including shutting down our cultural institutions and community gathering places — and it so often prevents us from being close to those we love. In our time of great need for each other, we have found it unsafe to comfort one other with a hug, holding a hand or even a pat on the back. 

In the past several months it has become increasingly important to understand our needs and seek to connect with and support each other. For “Near and Far,” artists are asked to submit original prints dealing with this theme by Sept. 8. You’ll be able to view the exhibition virtually from Oct. 26-Nov. 30 on the Morlan Gallery website.

If you’re unfamiliar with print exchanges, the way they work is each participating artist creates an edition of hand-pulled original and identical prints to send to the exchange. We take all the artists’ prints and more or less shuffle them up. They are then arranged into portfolios that are sent back to the participating artists, and as the host institution we keep a portfolio of the prints that will be exhibited and eventually become part of Transylvania’s permanent collection. While we get to enjoy an exhibition of handmade prints, we also get to act as an intermediary between artists and their communities as they take the prints they receive and enjoy them and show them to others.

Artists who have registered to participate so far are as close as right here in Lexington and as far as Shanghai, China. While we can’t know for certain the content of the works, I know they will reflect the complex and historic time that we are living through today. 

Go here if you are interested in participating and for more information. Let’s share something. We are better together — we are stronger together, even at six feet apart.