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Exhibit honors women of letterpress

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Gallery visitors Linda Dare and Stephanie Froehner take a closer look at the letterpress works in the “Women Over 25: Printing Letterpress for Over a Quarter of a Century,” exhibit in the Clark Humanities Museum in Claremont. The particular piece they are observing has paper cut-outs woven together and pressed flat. The Scripps College Press celebrated the 70th anniversary of its founding class with the exhibition. The exhibition features the work and dedication of women who have spent 25 years or more working with the craft of letterpress printing. The collection can also be found in Scripps College’s Denison Library. / photo by Zachary Horton

Brianna Means
Staff Writer

Scripps College is hosting a number of exhibits in honor of the 70th anniversary of its founding.

This past weekend’s exhibit was titled, “Women over 25,” which honored women who have been printing by letterpress for 25 years or more and are continuing to do so.

Letterpress printing is the printing of text and images using a press with a type-high bed printing press and movable type, in which a reversed, raised surface is inked and then pressed into a sheet of paper to obtain a positive right-reading image.

The books included in the exhibit were chosen by Kitty Maryatt, assistant professor of art, with help from librarian Judy Harvey Sahak.

The work included in the exhibit was selected from the artist book collection in the Denison Library at Scripps College where Sahak has been a librarian for over thirty years.

“My interest in letterpress began when I started working at the Denison Library and discovered the collection the library already had,” Sahak said. “Ever since I began working at the library in the late 1970s, I began collecting this type of art for the library’s collection as well.”

“Women have been printing by press for at least 25 years and since we are a women’s college, we wanted to show our appreciation to the women who have been doing this work that is male dominated,” Maryatt said. “This exhibit shows evidence of the empowerment of women that they chose this path which is not easy.”

This particular field is so difficult because the technology is ancient, which makes it hard to find and use. However, this is what these women chose to do and it shows how remarkable they truly are.

The books chosen to be a part of the museum’s exhibit were selected by Maryatt of artists she knew personally or were referred to by the collection at the Denison Library.

All of the work included was chosen because it is compelling and enhances the theme of the exhibit.

“The book must support the curriculum, be well made, typically by a woman, and not be too expensive to be chosen to be part of the collection in the library,” Sahak said.

Although males are not excluded from being a part of the collection, it is composed mainly of women since Scripps is a female college.

“This type of book art is really beautiful and the exhibit is a great way to accentuate female printers in a largely male dominated career,” said Molly Wassel, a sophomore psychology and visual arts double major at Scripps College.

The exhibit showcased 150 pieces by 41 different women from both the United States and England.

“The exhibit opens students’ eyes to the print world and what we as women are capable of doing,” Wassel said.

The exhibit was well attended by 150 people, while normally the exhibits have half as many people in attendance.

“It is good for students to see the books so they can see all that art has to offer and they can learn something they might not have learned without the exhibit,” Maryatt said.

The artwork is truly remarkable and insightful.

This type of art may not come to mind when people think of art so it is great that the exhibit is there for people to think about.

“I thought the exhibits at both the Clarks Humanities Museum and the one contained in the Denison Library are both truly fabulous,” Sahak said.

“Kitty Maryatt did an excellent job in the selection process for the museum’s exhibit,” Sahak said.

“It’s an excellent demonstration and manifestation of the richness of fine printing and book art,” Sahak said.

The collection can also be found at the Denison Library.

It is now accessible for both students and other members of the community, especially for those who are interested in the field.

It is a feat that such an ancient art form is still being produced and by women who empower others.

The exhibit runs until Sept. 21 in the Clarks Humanities Museum at Scripps College.

The museum hours are 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday.

Brianna Means can be reached at

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