For Decoration and Agitation:
An Exhibition of Stencil and Pochoir Books and Art
Curated by Jared Ash, Special Collections Division
|Anthony Velonis, Memory of the Depression, 1985; screen print and pochoir. Gift of Anthony Velonis, 1987.|
For centuries, artists and craftspeople have used stencils to create, color, and replicate patterns and images. To most people, stencils are regarded as tools for commercial, utilitarian, and ornamental applications, such as simulating antique folk–art designs on walls and furniture; copying patterns for pumpkin carving; marking shipping containers, or painting house numbers on curbs and mailboxes. In the third floor gallery of the Newark Public Library, a new exhibition seeks to expand popular awareness of stencil as a fine art medium, and as an agent of political and social activism.
For Decoration and Agitation: An Exhibition of Stencil and Pochoir Books and Art explores the use of stencils by artists around the world in creating and coloring prints and illustrations, from the late nineteenth century to the present day. The exhibition features work by 60 artists and is drawn almost entirely from the holdings of the Library’s Special Collections Division. Major areas represented in the exhibition include book and journal illustration (children’s literature, fine press, and fashion design), hand-made paper, fine art prints, artists’ books, and broadsides.
The term pochoir, which means “stencil” in French, generally refers to a practice of applying color to black and white printed images, by using short, stubby brushes, gouache or watercolor paint, and a series of stencils. Pochoir is a labor-intensive, “fine stencil” process, generally involving 20 to 30 individual stencils for a single image, and occasionally up to as many as 250. Offering a vibrancy and vitality not achievable through mechanical color printing processes, pochoir flourished between 1910 and 1935, and was embraced eagerly by artists associated with Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Cubism.