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Select works will debut as a special exhibit in the Hampshire College Art Gallery the first week of June
A collection of works by internationally renowned artist and illustrator Barry Moser has been acquired by the Hampshire College Archives and Special Collections through a gift from Leon Pyle and Cathy DeForest, parents of Derek Pyle, a Hampshire alum. Select works from the collection will debut in a special exhibit opening in the Hampshire College Art Gallery the first week of June.
The works were acquired from Moser’s friend Vance Studley, a designer, printer, and teacher of letterpress printing and bookbinding. They will be showcased in the summer exhibition titled Design & Build: The Art of the Book inspired by the “Build, Create, Design” theme of this year's Div IV reunion weekend. The exhibit will open with a public reception on June 2, 2016 at 6pm, and will be on display June 3 (including a special alumni reception that evening) through September 30 in the Gallery, located in the Harold F. Johnson Library.
Moser’s work is represented in numerous collections, museums, and libraries in the US and abroad, including The National Gallery of Art, Washington, The Metropolitan Museum, The British Museum, The Library of Congress, The National Library of Australia, The London College of Printing, The Pierpont Morgan Library, The Vatican Library, and numerous college and university collections.
He has illustrated and/or designed hundreds of books, including Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, which won the National Book Award for design and illustration in 1983, and his monumental Pennyroyal Caxton Bible which was featured in the only one-man exhibit ever to be mounted at the Library of the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. by a living artist, according to Moser’s biography.
Moser is currently on the faculty of Smith College where he is Professor in Residence in the Department of Art and serves as Printer to the College. He is an Associate of the National Academy of Design, and was a founding trustee of the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.
For the exhibit at the Hampshire College Art Gallery, the curatorial team – led by new Gallery Director Amy Halliday and Kress Curatorial Fellow, Jocelyn Edens 06F, with assistance from recent Hampshire grad Rhana Tabrizi – is tracing the intersections of pedagogy and practice in Barry Moser’s work. Although Moser has taught in western Massachusetts for almost 50 years, no exhibition of his work to date has examined the significance of his pedagogical career, from his early days at the Williston Academy (now the Williston Northampton School) in Easthampton, where he set up his first press, to his current role at Smith College.
A range of Moser prints from the Vance Studley collection will be on view, alongside a number of important loans and rarely seen early works from the Williston Northampton School archives, selections of Five College student work supervised by Moser, and works by Hampshire College alumni book artists.
Studley printed many of Moser’s woodblock engravings from the early 1990s until 2012. His collection includes prints as well as watercolors, drawings, and copies of highly collectible, limited-edition books from Moser's acclaimed Pennyroyal Press. Studley, founder of, and longtime teacher at, the Archetype Press, a letterpress printing program at California’s Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, says he's thrilled that the collection will be used for teaching purposes.
“Over the years, Barry and I became very good friends, and we collaborated on a lot of projects,” he says. “I gradually acquired a small and growing collection of his work in the process."
Studley realized that it made sense to find a permanent home for the collection where more people could appreciate it. When friends introduced him to Hampshire parent Cathy DeForest, things seemed to fall into place. She and her son, Hampshire alum Derek Pyle, are letterpress printers as well.
“My husband Leon and I went over one day to see his collection,” says DeForest. “Each piece was sort of unbelievable. We’re in love with Hampshire, and the whole connection to book arts there intrigued me. Leon and I felt it would be a wonderful gift to the college for faculty and students, and also for the stature of the college.”
DeForest had worked with Jennifer Gunter King, the director of Hampshire’s Harold F. Johnson Library, in staging the Al Mutanabbi Street Starts Here exhibit in summer 2015, and she reached out to her about the idea. She introduced King to Studley, and he agreed it was the right place to preserve the works.
“Our end goal is to provide students with access to select examples of work such as Barry Moser’s and Vance Studley’s, to inspire and inform their creative work,” says King. “I feel confident this collection will be well used at Hampshire and will also have a good audience with our Five College consortium partners.”
“Hampshire is a young college, and I hope this will help support a drive and desire to build a larger collection of art for their community,” says Studley. “It's exciting to know students will now be able to examine Barry's and my collaborative work up close."
For more information on the Hampshire College Art Gallery hours and future exhibits visit here.
Image 1: Barry Moser, Portrait of Tommy, Vance Studley's cat, wood engraving. From the Vance Studley Collection of Barry Moser prints at Hampshire College.
Image 2: Barry Moser working with a student at the Castalia Press, The Williston Northampton School, 1973. Image courtesy of Williston Northampton Archives. (The photographer is unknown.)