United States of America
Beth Grabowski is an artist, author and educator. A Professor of Art at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she has taught all manner of printmaking and book arts. Beth Grabowski’s art explores aspects of identity and relationship experienced from the perspective of motherhood. Issues such as nurturance, sentimentality, expectation, domestic labour, familial hierarchy and family narrative motivate her work. The work frequently exists as a documentation of the process of familial relationship through collaborative works. Grabowski is a past president of SGC International, a professional organization for print, paper, and book artists, educators, collectors, and enthusiasts. Grabowski is co-author, with Bill Fick (Supergraphic/Duke University), of Printmaking, a Complete Guide to Materials and Processes, (Laurence King, 2009, 2014). Her work has been represented widely in national and international venues, including the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington DC, the North Carolina Museum of Art, Art Helix in Brooklyn, NY, Racine Art Museum, and the Câmara Municipal de Alijo, Portugal.
The late Svetlana Boym in her book The Future of Nostalgia, defined the nostalgic impulse as “not always retrospective; (but)… prospective as well. … (N)ostalgia is about the relationship between individual biography and the biography of groups or nations, between personal and collective memory.”* I embrace Boym’s idea that a “Contemporary Nostalgia” represents a longing for coherency borne more from an apprehension of an uncertain future rather than a sentimental desire for a past. It is a phenomenon particular to contemporary life and reflects a sense of foreboding that puts our capacity for self-determination at risk.
Much of my work for the past several years has acknowledged this fear for the future that has marked this millennium. Structural inequalities that continue to impact the most vulnerable exist in every facet of our lives from political policy to climate change. Conversely, nostalgia holds out hope for a return—or at least reclamation of agency—perhaps as we can only understand in hindsight. As long as the possibility of empathetic experience exists —however remote— then the understanding of our collective responsibility becomes tangible. In my work, I seek to suggest the intangibles, uncertainties, and consequences that arise from our individual and collective attempts to confront these problems that seem to define our contemporary experience.
* Svetlana Boym, Nostalgia and its Discontents, The Hedgehog Review / Summer 2007, p 8
I was initially attracted to participate in t the Together Apart: #Future program mostly because the past pandemic year has been difficult and my creative life needed some revitalization. Because much of my work is informed by questions relating to the theme, it seemed a perfect opportunity to recharge my thinking and practice. I am so thankful to the ‘ace staff and of all the participants for their generosity and willingness to take some chances.
I found the exercises useful as a catalyst to expand some of my thinking and developing new frameworks for considering concepts of time, space, nostalgia, responsibility and complicity, the elusive nature of language and communication, and of image making. I particularly enjoyed working with Char and Clare in the small group exercise. Our rich discussions opened some new paths for my thinking and I made something that I might not have otherwise. This experience has renewed my appreciation for an artistic community and the need to cultivate dialog despite the obstacle of geography/distance (and my own tendency toward introversion!)
1956 | Washington D.C.
Lives and works in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
1985 | MFA at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA
1978 | BA at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
2021 | Branches From the Same Tree, Guanlan Printmaking Museum, Shenzen, China.
2021 | Routine Maintenance, University of North Florida, USA
2020| Intersecting Methods; Bringing Together the Arts and the Sciences, Stockton University Art Gallery, New Jersey, USA
2020| Celestial Terrestrial, El Arsenal de la Marina, San Juan, Puerto Rico.
2019 | A Book about Death; The Last Waltz, Islip Art Museum, East Islip, New York, USA
2016 | Proyecto ‘Ace , Buenos Aires, Argentina.
2010 | Tom Blaess Atelier, Bern, Switzerland.
2010 | Frans Masereel Centrum, Kasterlee, Belgium.
2007 | Sanbao Ceramics Institute, Jingdezhen, China.
2018 | Kappa Kappa Gamma Distinguished Professor of Art.
2018 | Honorary Member of the Council, SGC International.
2016 | Provost’s Award for Creative Activity in the Fine Arts, UNC,Chapel Hill.
2008 | Academic Leadership Award, Institute for the ARts and Humanities, UNC-Chapel Hill.
2000 | Artist’s Fellowship Award, North Carolina Arts Council.
2011 | UNC Center for Global Initiatives, CGI Distinguished Service Award for work on Visualizing Human Rights (Conferences in 2008, 2009, 2011).