Rutgers Distinguished Professor Emerita Judith K. Brodsky, a visionary artist and advocate, arts administrator and entrepreneur, printmaker, and scholar, recognized that women and gender nonconforming artists, as well as artists of color, were excluded from the art world in the 1980s. Brodsky’s pioneering vision set out to rectify the situation by establishing in 1986 a print- and papermaking residency center for these artists, now known as the Brodsky Center. From its inception, the Center strategically placed itself at the vanguard of art making, not only with print and papermaking techniques but also with the innovation of new ideas and narratives as a model for institutional and artworld diversity, equity, and inclusion.
The Brodsky Center, with state-of-the-art facilities, was the site of experiments with concepts that emerged in the 21st century as dominant concerns of artists in the contemporary art world: race and ethnic identity, nonconforming gender issues, climate and the environment, the politics of language, and immigration. The Center encouraged artists to explore how working in what were often for them the new processes of print and paper could expand their previous realms of thought. While at Rutgers University, the Brodsky Center served as a catalyst for cultural transformation in New Jersey, in the United States, and worldwide. It continues to do so at its present location in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
The artworks on view in this exhibition are illustrative of new imagery and artistic languages now incorporated into contemporary art making in the 21st century. The exhibition is thematically conceived, exemplifying the Brodsky Center’s mission to insert new narratives into the American cultural mainstream. Five representative artworks, as emblems that capture the essence of the Brodsky Center, have been singled out for placement at the entrance to the exhibition. The works on view are then organized into nine other sections: Cultural Vitality and Social Justice, Documenting Place: Real and Imagined, Escaping the Unitary Linear, Icons and Symbols, Innovations, Looking at the Portrait, The Sages, Tribulations and Endings, and Visualizing Texts.
Organized by Ferris Olin, Distinguished Professor Emerita, Rutgers University