In 18 volumes and over 3,000 pages, the Practical Encyclopedia of Good Decorating and Home Improvement, published in 1971, presented domestic tips on construction, crafting, and interior design. Brooklyn-based artist Mickalene Thomas came across the set in a thrift store, and the full-color illustrations had a direct impact on her work, including a new edition of Durham Press prints, Interiors, debuting this week at the 2017 Fine Art Print Fair in New York.
Thomas is best known for rhinestone-encrusted portraits reflecting on the representation of African-American women. The portraits, for which she sometimes uses friends and family members as models, often feature bold interior spaces.
For the Interiors prints, two photographs of living rooms were taken directly from the encyclopedia. The scenes have been transformed, with blocks of color and new textures transposed over the imagery. Multiple elements were added, such as wood veneer and gold leaf. Each print went through a series of processes, including screenprint, woodblock, etching, and digital printing. “The Interior prints include approximately 100 impressions, 65 colors, 15 screens, 4 woodblocks, as well as several collage components. They took over two years to proof and edition,” Durham Press director Gwyneth Fearnhead writes.
The 2017 Fine Art Print Fair runs from October 26-29 at the River Pavilion, Javits Center, in New York. Other editions debuting at the fair includes John Baldessari at Mixographía, Matt Saunders at Niels Borsch Gallery, and Swoon at Tandem Press. Carl Solway Gallery will present an exhibition of work by graphic designer Milton Glaser.