Chicago Printmakers Collaborative Hosts First Competition

Kris Anne Bonifacio

When Deborah Lader, the director of the Chicago Printmakers Collaborative, decided it was time to host a competition, she didn’t realize how far the news about it would travel.

But soon after they opened the submissions for the competition, Lader said they received entries not just from local artists, but from artists abroad. By the time the deadline ended in May, Lader said CPC received entries from 19 different countries, including Iraq, Serbia, Japan, Bulgaria, Hungary and Iran.

“We wanted it to be accessible to all kinds of artists, including younger artists,” Lader said. “We have been thinking about doing a competition for years. We’re the oldest artist-run printshop in Chicago. It was time to do something different.”

The wide breadth of submissions could be attributed to social media and the fact that when coming up with the rules for the competition, Lader and her team decided they wouldn’t charge an entry fee – which is unheard of in art competitions. Organizations often charge an entry fee to pay for the amount of work that goes into the competition.

Peeter Allik's "Meat II." Photo courtesy of Deborah Lader/CPC

“I’m a printmaker myself, and I enter competitions all the time,” Lader said. “I could pay 50 bucks to enter a show, but there isn’t even guarantee I’ll be in it.”

To be eligible for the competition, artists had to be at least 18 years old. Art students were eligible to enter, as long as they met the age requirement. Artists then emailed their resume, artwork and some information about their work and themselves to CPC. The artwork had to be printed by the artist, not by someone else.

Of the submissions, a committee chose the top 10 artworks. The committee consisted of members of the CPC community, Lader said.

“I wanted to make a well-rounded community of CPC people,” Lader said. “It made sense because ultimately, the winners will work alongside CPC members.”

Lader said the judging process was based on the artist’s work and how it affected people. She said they also looked at the craftsmanship.

Sanya Glisic's "Preamble," from Struwwelpeter. Photo courtesy of Deborah Lader/CPC

Those 10 artists are featured in the exhibit at CPC, 4642 North Western Avenue. The 10 chosen artists included four local printmakers — Liz Born, Sanya Glisic, Yue Chen and Joseph Taylor. In addition, four international artists were chosen: Peeter Allik from Estonia, Cleo Wilkinson from Australia and Kalina Kraleva and Darina Peeva, both from Bulgaria. Ashley Nason, from DeKalb, Ill., and Angela Young, from Tempe, Ariz., rounded out the list.

The organization hosted an opening reception June 25 to showcase the exhibit of the 10 artists, which will be featured throughout the summer, until Aug. 27.

Two grand prize winners were chosen by the judge Deb Wood, senior curator of the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University in Evanston.

At the opening reception, the two winners, Chicago artist Sanya Glisic and Estonian artist Peeter Allik were announced.

The Chicago Printmakers Collaborative workshop. Photo courtesy of Deborah Lader/CPC

“Sanya Glisic and Peeter Allik exhibit immense skill, imagination, and creativity in their work,” Wood said in her juror’s statement. “Glisic’s fantastical retelling of 19th-century German parables calls to mind graphic novels and dark, edgy comics. Peeter Allik’s large meat-based still lifes are both beautiful and grotesque. His use of swelling black lines references both17th-century French engraver Claude Mellan and 21st-century woodcuts by German artist Christiane Baumgartner.”

Glisic and Allik won free, six-month keyholder memberships to the CPC, which is worth $1200. They will have 24/7 access to the CPC workshop to make their artwork.

Lader said the prize benefits the CPC community as well.

“It’s good for the people already working here to work with new people,” she said. “It’ll foster the CPC community.”