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Building a P.R.I.N.T. layer by layer by Kelley Reese
Spring 2002      

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Writer's note: The right texture

More photos

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P.R.I.N.T. Press

Some Quick-to-See works online

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Burning Issues

Straight Talk

Building a P.R.I.N.T.
Layer by Layer

The Drive to Succeed

photo of artist Jaune Quick-to-See Smith
Artist Jaune Quick-to-See Smith worked with UNT's master printer and a handful of students to create a limited-edition lithograph at the UNT P.R.I.N.T. Press this fall.

As a young Flathead Indian, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith learned not to openly disagree with what she was taught off the reservation.

However, she always knew there was a different point of view.

Today, as a professional artist and teacher, Smith encourages people to think for themselves, find truth and speak out.

Smith recently spent seven days at the UNT Print Research Institute of North Texas, working with Catherine Chauvin, UNT master printer, and a handful of printmaking students to create a limited-edition lithograph.

While on campus, Smith also spent time talking to art students and visitors about her art, the experience of the Native American people, and the responsibility she believes each American has in knowing the truth about America’s history, its present and its future.

Her collaboration with P.R.I.N.T. Press typifies the role of a university fine arts printing press.

Unique creations

UNT’s School of Visual Arts is one of only six schools in the country that has a professional print shop. Established in 1993, UNT’s fine arts press works with both emerging and established artists to contribute to the production of contemporary art. In addition, the press offers extraordinary opportunities to students.

At P.R.I.N.T. Press, students watch and participate in the operation of a professional print shop — putting what they learn in the classroom into action. They also get the experience of watching a professional artist work.

“Printmaking in the classroom is learned as another medium for making my own work,” says Alyssa Brown, a graduating printmaking senior. “After working with Jaune, I better understand the role of a printmaker as a technician.”

The creation of each print at the press is unique, dependent on the artist involved. However, the process is usually similar.

The master printer and the artist must collaborate throughout the creation of the piece to ensure the image will work as a print.

The collaboration takes place in a new 5,000-square-foot building next to Oak Street Hall that houses machinery to do almost every type of print technique.

Smith’s collaboration was the first professional use of the new space. The shop is working this spring with Dan Rizzie, an artist who has been to UNT before, and plans are being made to bring in additional artists.

Complex perspectives

Smith’s print, a 4-by-6-foot collage on Oriental paper, features many complex elements.

Through it, she discusses war in today’s context from her point of view as a Native American. The print challenges the viewer to think about the realities of war and its impact on everyone and everything.

Behind the paper, which is translucent, are the small words “up close and personal” directly in front of large text proclaiming “War is Heck.”

Images of soldiers, buffalo, songbirds and human hands are also buried beneath the larger dominant image of a horse — an icon typically used in Smith’s work.

The work strategically places text and images to build a sense of what we have to lose and gain. Smith asks viewers to be careful about what they wish for while reminding them of what they’ve lost.

“I remember going to school off the reservation and learning about American history from the colonial perspective,” she says.

“When I would tell my father, who was illiterate, what I had learned, he’d just say, ‘Sis, I think those people are ignorant, but it’s not our place to tell them so.’ That instruction taught me a lot about the importance of point of view.”

That same lesson may also be the reason why Smith is always careful to show a whole picture.

Her work, as commonly noted by critics, represents a definite point of view but does not simplify others’ points of view or edit them. The result is that her work takes risks while asking important and difficult questions about society and responsibility.

Technical challenges

Her techniques created a series of special problems that Chauvin and UNT students had to resolve.

Smith frequently chooses to hide the comments that most strongly counter popular belief behind other images — a habit that may be a remnant from her childhood.

Because the print features three layers of imagery — the pictures and text behind the horse, the horse itself, and the images and text on top of the horse — the creation and placement of each layer had to be figured out individually and then merged.

In search of the best method, some students created a series of proofs that featured images printed on both sides of a sheet of paper in a range of gray tones from black to white. Others worked on methods for chine collèing, or adhering, individually printed images to the back and front of the paper without obstructing their visibility. The solution — chine collè.

In addition, while Chauvin worked on aspects of the print that needed solitary involvement, Smith teamed up with the students to create 20 additional and original monotypes.

“In just a few days with Jaune I’ve come to understand how important the technical aspects of the print process are to creating a quality finished piece of art,” Brown says.

Chauvin, who joined the UNT art faculty in 2000, says that is one of the most important functions of P.R.I.N.T. Press.

“After working in the shop on a piece that will be sold, the students carry back a greater attention to detail than can be taught in a classroom,” she says.


Seventeen students worked on the process of creating Smith’s lithograph during the week she was on campus. Some of them will be involved in making the editions of the piece — a process that attempts to replicate the original as closely as possible while creating a unique work of art with each hand-pulled print.

For every print, the plates that hold Smith’s images have to be inked and pressed by hand. Additionally, each layer of collage has to be added by hand.

Students are involved in every aspect of the press, including the curating and marketing of the inventory.

P.R.I.N.T. currently holds inventory by well-known artists, such as Rizzie, Terry Allen, Annette Lawrence, Anitra Blayton, Jack Pierson, Jim Shaw, Kathy Grove, Edgar Heap of Birds, Jane Kent, Lynda Benglis and Michael Miller. Smith’s lithograph and monotypes are being added to the inventory this spring. To see works available, visit



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