Wilson College presents
Paging Through: Artist's Books by Tia Blassingame

Wednesday, February 12, 2020 through Sunday, June 7, 2020

“We are excited to have Tia Blassingame return to Wilson,” said Joshua Legg, director of the College’s Master of Fine Arts Program and curator of the Cooley Gallery. “Wilson’s MFA is rooted in human ecology, and focuses on artmaking as a means of social discourse and engagement. Through her work, Tia certainly does both of those things in a potent, yet incredibly accessible, way.

Blassingame — who was a guest artist at Wilson in 2012 — is an African American book artist and printmaker exploring the intersection of race, history, and perception. She often incorporates archival research and her own poetry in her artist’s book projects for nuanced discussions of racism in the United States. She holds a B.A. in Architecture from Princeton University, M.A. in Book Arts from Corcoran College of Art + Design, and M.F.A. in Printmaking from Rhode Island School of Design.

The artist uses a mixture of poetry, typography, printmaking and book arts techniques such as relief printing, etching, screenprinting, lithography, letterpress printing, hand papermaking and bookbinding,

“I utilize printmaking in the book form,” Blassingame stated, “to address issues of race and racism in the United States. I examine African American architectural, spatial and cultural history, racial prejudices and perception. As many of my pieces deal with historical racism, I employ period typefaces to create a look and ambiance that transports the viewer to the appropriate era.”

Legg observed, “Part of my job as a curator is to facilitate dialogues around cultural history and cultural legacy. These often are not easy conversations to have, particularly around historical and contemporary racism. But, they are essential to better understanding and improving our current social paradigm. Tia’s work is prescient, and she has developed an essential artistic practice that makes framing, initiating, and deepening these dialogues easier to do.”

“Because of its tactile nature and impression on the page,” Blassingame noted, “letterpress printing invites the viewer to connect immediately and then dissect the text and images slowly. Instead of repelling the viewer, artists’ books can allow for a nuanced discussion on issues of race to unfold with each page turn. The reader/viewer can locate themselves within the book as they create their own path to view and connect deeply with the book, its text and prints, history itself.”

Blassingame’s artist's books and prints can be found in library and museum collections including Library of Congress, Columbia University, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Museum of Women in the Arts, and State Library of Queensland. Blassingame is an Assistant Professor of Book Arts at Scripps College and serves as the Director of Scripps College Press. Blassingame will be on campus for a closing reception and artist’s talk in June. 

About the Cooley Gallery

The Sue Davison Cooley Gallery is an exhibition venue to the Wilson College community. Located on the second floor of the beautifully renovated John Stewart Memorial Library, Cooley Gallery provides space for students and professional artists to share their creative voice with a community of scholars. Professional artist exhibitions typically run for an entire semester, while student and resident artist exhibitions run during summer months.

The Cooley Gallery is named in honor of Wilson alumna Sue Davison Cooley ’44, a Portland, OR area philanthropist and Wilson College benefactor. Like Bogigian Gallery, Cooley is a crucial teaching tool for fine arts program and mission, with a commitment to excellence and professionalism in each exhibition.

Cooley Gallery is open Mon – Thur 8AM – 11PM, Fri 8 AM – 5 PM, Sat 9 AM – 5 PM, and Sun 1 PM – 11 PM. Admission is free. For additional information or an appointment, contact Joshua Legg, Cooley Gallery Curator, at joshua.legg@wilson.edu.

View previous work in the art exhibition archive