Bruce Muirhead has been teaching printmaking at Hamilton College since 1972. He first learned to make prints while studying painting at the Rhode Island School of Design and at Boston University but did not make a serious commitment to the medium until he was hired to teach both painting and printmaking at Kirkland College, Hamilton's coordinate college.
Muirhead's prints, all etchings, often contain references to the local landscape. In an extension of his drafting technique, Muirhead works his plates much like he would a drawing. He inscribes images into the plates and then changes them, erasing them by burnishing and scraping, sometimes leaving references to a previous design and building up the images into multilayered compositions. What results is a play on the past and the present, on vision and memory.
His landscapes contain old houses and factories that have inspired and intrigued him during his travels through Upstate New York and New England. Muirhead always works from memory rather than photographs which gives his images a mysterious quality. This tension between vision and memory, past and present is also found in his figurative pieces. These contain the figure of a mysterious woman that he has reworked for more than thirty years. The exhibition explores this notion of dual states of being expressed in Muirhead's prints and the way that his works challenge notions of existence and identity.
Professor Printmaker is a celebration of Muirhead's career as a printmaker. It features 50 of Muirhead's representative etchings from the collection of the Amity Art Foundation and is presented in conjunction with the publication of a catalogue raisonne of Muirhead's prints. The exhibition is organized by the Emerson Gallery.