Studio Tour: Lisa Bulawsky

For years Lisa Bulawsky has played an active role in both the St. Louis printmaking community and the printmaking community at large. It’s really a pleasure to feature a tour of her studio today. Lisa is Associate Professor of Printmaking/Drawing at the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts at Washington University. She’s also the director of Island Press, a recipient of an NEA fellowship, and has exhibited at the High Point Center for Printmaking, the Urban Institute of Contemporary Art, the International Print Center New York, and the Dalarnas Museum in Sweden, to name just a few.

Her prints have taken many forms over the years: from works on paper and installation, to temporary public art, sculpture, and video. Central to her practice is the exploration of culture, history, memory, and their relationships to humanity, often examining personal and collective memories alongside historical events and material culture. As a means of understanding identity, these ideas materialize as imaginary landscapes and structures, sharing deeply personal and culturally significant narratives.

Lisa’s studio space is in a converted garage in her backyard. From floor to ceiling, prints and collage materials are laid in neat piles, hung up, or tucked inside flat files. Matrices lean against walls, and tubes and rolls of paper are tucked overhead. Everything–prints, posters, notes, sketches, equipment–feels well-loved and carefully selected. During the tour, she generously handed me her sketchbook to flip through page after page of vibrant, gestural sketches and notes. This was my favorite moment in her studio.

A page from Lisa’s sketchbook.

Another page from Lisa’s sketchbook.

The print multiple has long been an important component of Lisa’s work, one she describes as having enormous, ‘democratic potential’, but her attention is also drawn to a print’s ability to be unique, singular, and innovative in the mark-making it exhibits. In this way, Lisa often incorporates mixed media and collage, whether printed or not, within her work. Examples of the two, sometimes co-existing, are found throughout her studio.

Lisa’s press was built by Peter Marcus. Beneath it is an on-going temporal project; Lisa is stacking her used sheets of newsprint to chart her printing practice one sheet at a time. This heap of paper is another approach to examining timelines and records.

Lisa’s stack of newsprint is growing under her press!

An underlying component in Lisa’s work is her honesty, sense of conviction, and social engagement, most notable in her collaborations and public projects, such as Prosthetic Memories, Love Stories, and Radiate/Cultivate. Prosthetic Memories is one of her most recent, but her numerous collaborations and public projects span the last fifteen years. The suite of monoprints is based on elderly Americans’ recollections and personal associations with historical events. The result is a collection of prints which interpret and archive events to begin a public dialogue about remembrance.

Prosthetic Memory, JFK: Titanium Limousine

Etching, lithography, colored pencil, and white ink on paper

Prosthetic Memory, WWII: Magic Carpet Bay

Softground etching, inkjet, acrylic, monotype, collage

Prosthetic Memory, WWII: Mount Censored

Softground etching, relief, digital printing, collage, hand-coloring


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Categories: Studio Visit, Uncategorized

4 Responses to “Studio Tour: Lisa Bulawsky”

  1. Laura Berman says:

    Love seeing your studio, Lisa!

  2. Jason Urban says:

    Thanks for sharing, Lisa and Sage!

  3. stan gellman says:

    best use of a garage i have seen in a long time.
    good luck

  4. luca cruzat says:

    Lisa’s work is interesting. Good post Sage.