Print: MKE 2013 Award Winner Lesley Dill on Display At MIAD

The Letterpress Book Art of Lesley Dill

Mar. 22, 2013
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When participating in the Southern Graphics Council International Print: MKE 2013 conference this week,  art lovers and printmakers travel to local art galleries throughout the city to view an exceptional array of art. With all the printmaking to view, there could be one exquisite exhibition that might be unintentionally overlooked. At the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, SGC International Lifetime Achievements in Printmaking Award Winner Lesley Dill presents her collaborative exhibition “I Had A Blueprint of History,” a letterpress and collage on watermarked cotton and the abaca paper displayed in MIAD”S lower level and tucked underneath their  staircase.

Dill’s exquisite book art illustrates the poem “Blueprint” by Tom Sleigh that master printmaker Paul Wong created through Dieu Donné Press and was completed by the hand printing of Peter Kruty. The fascinating collaboration to the limited edition publication can be both bound and viewed as a book or exhibited (and framed as a print), one page at a time as MIAD exhibits these pieces under glass, although very viewer friendly, to admire every detail. 

The internationally known Dill progresses through Sleigh's poem by first applying blacks and faded primary colors to this reflective poem that eludes to “the history of martyrs of love” and the “fools of tyrants, the tyrants themselves weeping." Gradually Dill's letterpress prints transform to elegant, illusive images and text using silver and various metallic inks, perhaps to sensuously illustrate the mystical words representing ideas that speak to a “ray of light searching a darkened room for the soul.” And be sure to view the poem in the Sieigh's original context at, to appreciate Dill's work even more clearly. 

Midway through the book, Dill’s one magical image of a knight occupies the middle ground on a full page she burnished in copper metallic, the warrior knight's spear the object that perhaps pierces the soul in Sleigh’s evocative poem. In this exhibition, sometimes only an image appears, sometimes text, or Dill combines the two in Dill’s incomparable, imaginative images by the way Dill converges the words to create a very special marking on the page that expresses the variety applied to the letterpress process and incorporates her passion for the beauty in text observed in her artwork, whether on a miniature or a grand scale. As when her words impressively adorned an entire wall at the John Michael Kohler Art Center in an exhibition several years ago with collective poignancy.

Milwaukee’s rich history in book art can also be observed at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Special Collections Library, a division of the university's Golda Meir Library, which houses a prestigious and vast, not to mention diverse, assemblage of wondrous book art. As Dill receives her award at the 2013 SGC International Award this weekend, be sure to view her art on display at MIAD and the UWM Peck School of Art Gallery. Enjoy every moment possible in these special exhibits featured at local galleries throughout Milwaukee for once in a lifetime opportunities. What an ideal experience to learn and study the eclectic, professional art of printmaking. 



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