Two Concurrent Exhibitions Kick Off Opalka’s 20th Anniversary Year

ALBANY — Opalka Gallery is pleased to present two related, concurrent  exhibitions, the Screenprint Biennial and Graphic Liberation!, both opening on September 6 and running through October 29. A reception will be held Friday, Sept. 16, in conjunction with the return of Opalka’s popular outdoor Pop-Up Beer Garden series from 6pm to 9pm. Screenprint Biennial founder Nathan Meltz will give an exhibition tour at 5:30pm.

Organized by Meltz with guest jurors John Hitchcock and Mizin Shin, this will be the fifth Screenprint Biennial, and the second hosted by Opalka Gallery. Founded by Meltz in 2014, the Screenprint Biennial has a mission of showcasing a range of screenprint-based art applications, from framed editioned prints to installation, sculpture, video, ephemera, and posters. The exhibition isn’t meant to act as a survey or “who’s-who” of screenprinting, but to highlight artists with adventurous, relevant, and passionate takes on the medium.

Over the course of several biennial exhibitions, including a pandemic online version, the shows have varied in the types of work presented, with guest jurors adding different perspectives. However, some throughlines have persisted among the different exhibits: color, politics, hybridity, and expressiveness.

This year’s biennial exhibit exemplifies these qualities, presenting a group of art works ranging from thoughtful personal revelations, to revolutionary political zeal, to experiments in new technologies. Several artists address salient issues of capitalism, immigration, war, and the body. Twenty-first century technologies like augmented reality graphics and hydrographic printing join with centuries-old screenprinting techniques to present impactful expressions. Among nearly 300 entries submitted internationally, 25 artists were selected to exhibit in this year’s biennial.

Graphic Liberation! is an interactive exhibition and workshop created by Brooklyn-based artist, designer, and activist Josh MacPhee to map out a visual language of solidarity, human liberation, and dignity which has evolved and been built across the borders of time, nation state, and spoken/written language. Visitors are encouraged to remix this imagery and create new political posters about issues that are meaningful to them in a workshop right in the gallery, complete with relief printing, screenprinting and riso printing. MacPhee will give a talk on October 6, and will be in residence during the exhibition to lead workshops, and engage with students and diverse partners we have organized to utilize the space. Artists Rebekah Tolley, Maya Lewis and Sage alumni and designer Noah Ross will run print workshops for community groups, along with current Russell Sage art students. The workspace will be staffed by an art instructor Thursday evenings, 6pm to 8pm and Saturday afternoons, 12pm to 8pm. Or visit to schedule a free, instructor-led workshop for small groups. 

Graphic Liberation! originated at Colgate University. It ambitiously grew in scope and presentation into We Want Everything, an exhibition designed and supported by the Cleveland Institute of Art’s Reinberger Gallery and in collaboration with CIA’s Printmaking Department.

These exhibitions are made possible by the sustaining support from Chet and Karen Opalka, in-kind donations from Toshiba, and a Juror’s Award from Speedball. Graphic Liberation! is made possible with funds from the  Decentralization Grant program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Governor and the New York State legislature and administered by The Art Center of the Capital a Region. 

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