For those of us living in New England, the warm weather has finally arrived and brings with it the opening of our Fifth National Exhibition. Reflecting on what the “art of unique printmaking” means today is an integral part of our mission at the Monotype Guild of New England. Since the seventeenth century, artists and art scholars have periodically discovered for themselves the versatile techniques for monotypes and monoprints, embracing this experimental medium as a means of exploring their ideas in new and innovative ways. From masters like Rembrandt to Matisse, Picasso to Whistler, Robert Motherwell to Degas, Mary Cassatt to Jasper Johns, artists continue to expand and transform the form and function of monotype printmaking.

Monotypes and monoprints stand in contrast to editioned prints, in which each print in the edition is identical. The term monotype is derived from the word “mono,” meaning alone or single, and the word “type” which points directly to the field of printing. A unique print is defined by the Guild as a one-of-a-kind transfer of an inked or painted image, on a surface/substrate to paper or another receiving surface, which cannot be exactly duplicated. Both monotypes and monoprints often pass through the press multiple times, to add additional ink and imagery to the print, thus building beautiful layers of form, color, texture and line – and sometimes monotype and monoprint techniques are combined within in a single print.

Scholars have argued that the spontaneous process and elegant results are major factors in the continual renaissance of the monotype medium. However, I believe that the recent increase in the use of monotype and monoprint techniques in contemporary art-making practices stem from a greater cultural celebration of the return to analog and to craft. We live in an immersive digital era, yet the desire for tangible physical objects persists. So much so that the innovative creation of a unique print can become an act of rebellion against our digitally-dominated lives.

There is something distinctive and magical about interacting with physical objects. Printmaking is a physical, and often labor intensive, act through which an artist is able to leave their impressions on paper. These prints mark the juncture between the flat space of the picture and the experienced space of bodies, the intersection between the order of the archive and the flux of memory – the involuntary interchange between the world and the mind.

This printerly thinking can be embedded in the artists’ investigation of space, perception, corporeal experience or even the inherently human urge to make sense of it all. As you explore the works in our Fifth National Monotype/Monoprint Juried Exhibition, I would encourage you to take a closer-look at each print and consider how and why the artists chose to use monotype and monoprint techniques to create these one-of-a-kind prints. Whether it be an extension of the dialogue around recent events like the #metoo movement or an exploration of technique and color, these artists continue to explore what is possible.

During my five-year tenure as a member of the Board, I have been inspired by our members’ commitment to the art of the unique print. I am continually in awe of all that our Board and volunteers accomplish. I want to personally thank our exhibition chairs Kate Higley and Andrea Warner, as well as our Board and many volunteers, for their perseverance and hard work in coordinating our Fifth National Exhibition. As we look forward to the future of MGNE, I invite you to not only submit your work, but to get involved as a volunteer as well. It is the hard work and determination of our many volunteers that allows us to grow and thrive as an organization.

At the end of June, I will be stepping down as President of the Board. I have seen time and again that the heart and the strength of the Guild can be found in its incredible community of artists. It has been an honor to serve this amazing community and look forward to the future. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for continuing to create, to transform and to inspire.

R. Leopoldina Torres
President, Monotype Guild of New England

May 2018


REBECCA LEOPOLDINA TORRES is a professional printmaker, photographer and writer based in Cambridge, MA. She began her foray into printmaking in 2012 through a workshop with Selma Bromberg as a way to explore different techniques in printing with photographic images. However, she quickly fell in love with the spontaneity and innovation of working with monotypes and monoprints. In addition to being elected President of the Monotype Guild of New England in 2015, she is a co-founder of the Banter Artists Guild and member of the Newburyport Artists Association’s Printmakers. Her artwork has been exhibited in galleries, museums, and print media across the globe.

Leopoldina received her Bachelor’s degree in Visual Anthropology at Harvard University and is currently on staff in the Communications Department at the Harvard Art Museums. Her current academic research explores the relationships between photography and the role of witnessing, examining how the acts of looking, seeing and remembering are performed. She is also pursuing a degree in Marketing and Museum Studies at Harvard University, Extension School.

Abstract Black print consisting of black texted lines, with a splash of yellow.

R. Leopoldina Torres, “Sublimation (Phase Transition in Yellow),” 2017. Monotype.