Southern Graphics Council Excellence in Teaching Award
The Southern Graphics Council annually selects an esteemed artist/educator who has made a lifetime contribution to Printmaking and education to receive the Excellence in Teaching Award. Hugh Merrill will receive the award at the 35th Annual Southern Graphics Council Conference hosted by a consortium of universities, colleges and arts institutions in Kansas City March 21-25, 2007.
Since 1976, Hugh Merrill has taught in the Printmaking Program at the Kansas City Art Institute, collaborating with other excellent faculty to develop an internationally-renowned undergraduate program noted for embracing cross-disciplinary and digital applications alongside classic print media such as stone lithography, letterpress, silkscreen and etching.
Since the early 1990s, Hugh Merrill has been a seminal contributor to the revitalization of contemporary Printmaking and pedagogy. He is widely credited with helping redefine Printmaking as a more expansive cross-disciplinary set of artistic and educational practices. Through his published articles and panel presentations, Merrill extended the role of printmaking in art and education to the College Art Association, the Mid America Print Council and the international Impact Printmaking Conference. Merrill has been invited as an artist, community activist and printmaker to discuss his views and ideas on the role Print plays in culture and education to more than 50 universities and colleges internationally.
Kansas City Art Institute Print Program
Merrill, reflecting on the Printmaking program at the Kansas City Art Institute says, “The KCAI Print Program has been developed as a collaborative effort between excellent past and present faculty; Doug Baker, Adrian Herman, Cassandra Hooper, Holly Morrison, Eleanor Erskine and the amazing present Print Program Head Laura Berman. We worked together to develop a program that is interdisciplinary, has a strong love for prints classical processes and reaches outside the gallery world through community arts to underserved populations. Print is an art form with a heart and an eye at making a difference in society.”
KCAI Print alumni are highly visible on the national scene, via print portfolios, mail art exchanges, gallery exhibitions, performances and contributing to national art conferences. The KCAI Print alumni are noted for their improvisational energy, creativity, quirky entrepreneurial spirit and for erasing the distinction between fine and applied, high and low art forms, past and resent histories. KCAI Print undergraduates have been widely noted and much emulated nationally, especially by artists under 35 who tend to be less concerned about media categories. They have gone on to the most noted graduate programs and to success in the art and design world.
Biography [see also resume]
Hugh Merrill is an artist, educator, and writer. His artwork has been exhibited internationally and his work has been collected by major Museums such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Harvard Art Museums, the Cranbrook Museum, the Minneapolis Museum of Art, and the Nelson Atkins Museum among others. His articles on the redefinition of art, printmaking and education have been published internationally and have had a seminal effect on the dialogue to change educational processes across the country.
Merrill is noted as a printmaker who creates innovative series of sequential etchings. Merrill exhibited over 100 of his prints in a solo exhibition at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City in 1985. He produced the sequential series of prints Lucky Dragon for the exhibition, a portion of which was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He has continued to produce sequential prints based on historical/social themes such as the Raoul Wallenberg Suite, The Rosa Luxemburg Suite and the suite Do Unto which have been exhibited at Printworks Gallery, Chicago and at the Leedy Voulkos Gallery and the Museum Without Walls of the Kansas City Jewish Museum in Kansas City Missouri. Merrill started an ongoing sequential series of etchings Infinite Image/Facts of Fictions in 1995. This series is meant to be a life's work and to continue for decades, documenting his images and ideas over a lifetime.
His interest in collaboration with a non-arts audience has lead to his working with young people, mostly from the inner city to create collaborative/communal art works. Portrait of Self, exhibited at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Missouri in March of 1998 is his most recent and complex project. Merrill has written a conceptual workbook Portrait of Self to be used in collaboration with high school aged students. The students use the questions in the workbook to quantify and recollect the circumstances of their lives and childhood's. From the information each child gathers they produce a personal archives, which becomes the source material for the installation Portrait of Self at the Museum. Portrait of Self has evolved and Merrill is now working with incarcerated, abused and visually impaired children. Through a series of grants he is working with this diverse community to develop methods for archiving, and teaching visual literacy and creative thinking.
Merrill received his undergraduate degree from the Maryland Institute College of Art where he entered into a community with artists such as Alan Ginsberg, Fairfield Porter, John Waters, Divine, John Cage, and Larry Rivers. Merrill flunked out of art school after his first year returning to Washington D.C. to work for Senator John Sparkman of Alabama. He returned to the Maryland Institute College of Art in 1970 working in Painting and Printmaking, continuing to write journals and attend school periodically. He graduated with a 1.9 average in 1973. In spite of his grade point average, Merrill was accepted to Yale University based on the strength of his studio work, where he received his Master of Fine Arts. After several years of teaching on the eastcoast he came to the Kansas City Art Institute in 1976. Merrill is now a Professor of Printmaking.
In 1991 Merrill organized the 19th conference of the Southern Graphics Council at the Kansas City Art Institute. The conference investigated the effects of post-modern theory and its effect on print media. The conference led to the creation of the American Print Alliance; a national print organization made up of a consortium of regional print organizations.
In 1995 Merrill was invited to Krakow Poland to exhibit his series of prints Facts of Fictions at the Palace of Fine Arts. In the following year he exhibited the first of a series of large mixed-media installations at the Santa Barbara Forum of Contemporary Art in California, and at the Works Festival in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He continues to work in a number of creative formats creating sequential prints, mixed-media works, and conceptual communal projects.
Merrill has taught and lectured at over 75 universities, colleges and schools worldwide. He has been a speaker at numerous conferences including the College Art Association, The Southern Graphics Council and the Mid America Art Alliance. He has been awarded grants including a regional NEA grant, Melon Foundation, a Yaddo Fellowship, and a Catalysts I grant from the Missouri Arts Council. He is on the board of the Works Festival in Edmonton Alberta, the Museum Without Walls of the Kansas City Jewish Museum in Kansas City, Mo. and the Lakeside Art and Culture International in Lakeside, Michigan. Merrill is a professor and head of the Printmaking Program at the Kansas City Art Institute and is on the faculty of the Missouri Academy of Fine Arts.