Philly Creative Guide

Creative Personality

Allan L. Edmunds | President of Brandywine Workshop

Allan L. Edmunds
by Juanita Berge, 1 Oct 2010

The Brandywine Workshop is a unique cultural institution, known for its commitment to diversity, high standards and innovation in the art of printmaking and support for artists in all media. Brandywine offers dedicated students, young and emerging artists a chance to collaborate on projects, opportunities for exposure and patronage in communities locally, nationally and internationally. By bringing together artists, students, teachers, collectors and patrons of the arts, Brandywine promotes art as commerce, community and careers. Brandywine Workshop's President, Allan L. Edmunds, talks to us:

PCG: What is the genesis of the Brandywine Workshop?

AE: Brandywine was founded by African American artists, school teachers and university professors to provide training and exposure, mentoring and professional development support to young, culturally diverse youth in Philly.

PCG: In the beginning, what motivated you to build a workshop like this one?

AE: We were motivated by the lack of services and opportunities in museums and galleries and the dramatic increases in diverse student populations in area art colleges.

Interview with Allan L. Edmunds

PCG: You say the economic and social conditions of artists have driven your path. How so?

AE: The people and communities we served early on were basically underserved by larger institutions and there was a need for an organization to serve as a bridge between them and the mainstream institutions. The bridge needed to be strong in areas of quality, aspire to the highest standards, and it needed to reflect the contributions of diverse people. Economic and social conditions affected access for African Americans, Latinos, and Asians whose lack of affluence or influence blocked their career paths. Present conditions have served to decrease the divide, but the bridge (institutions such as Brandywine) is still needed to serve and advocate for inclusiveness in the arts and culture of American society at all levels.

PCG: Is this Workshop the only one of its kind in Philadelphia?

AE: Brandywine is the longest surviving print workshop dedicated to original offset lithography printing in the country. We are one of a small number of fine art print production workshops nationally that serves artists, regardless of their ability to pay.

Interview with Allan L. Edmunds

PCG: How has the Workshop changed the artistic life of Philadelphia?

AE: I believe that as an advocate for the rich talent and achievements of culturally diverse artists working in Philly, we have made a tremendous impact in increasing their visibility and expanding their opportunities. Most major collecting institutions in the City and region hold prints produced at Brandywine. Exhibitions, catalogs, and books published by Brandywine document the contributions of diverse, young, emerging and well- established artists who would otherwise not be known in the City, if not for the presence of Brandywine's over the last 37 years. Our efforts to build partnerships with other art groups—large, small, community - based and world class—have resulted in national and international exposure for Philadelphia as a center for the art of printmaking.

PCG: How many artists are associated with the workshop now?

AE: Over 400

PCG: How many galleries do you have there?

AE: Three

PCG: Tell us about your visiting artists program.

AE: The visiting artists program includes applicants from outside the area (nationally or internationally) who come and stay from one-two weeks to create new prints in collaboration with our master printer Bob Franklin.

PCG: Your Master Collection is well travelled. Tell us about that.

AE: Brandywine has traveled exhibits to six- countries in the Middle and Near East; Florence, Italy; Cardiff, Wales; fourteen sub - Sahara African nations; six Latin American countries and Havana, Cuba.

Nationally, exhibits have been shown in Birmingham, Al; Chicago, Il, New York City, Washington, DC, Charlotte, NC, Hampton, VA and over thirty additional cities.

Interview with Allan L. Edmunds

PCG: Tell us about Apogee at Brandywine.

AE: [email protected] is a creative collective of multidiscipline artists—filmmakers, web designer, graphic and fashion design, playwrights, etc.—who use Brandywine facilities for office space and programming, and collaborate with Brandywine on teaching and outreach projects.

PCG: Who are some of your mentors?

AE: Robert Blackburn (master printer) Sam Gilliam, Benny Andrews and Paul Keene (painters), Mel Edwards (sculptor) and Samella Lewis (art historian).

PCG: What have been some of the star moments for the Workshop?

AE: The first Brandywine Achievement Award presentation in 1976 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art honoring painter Romare Bearden and photographer James Van Der Zee; 1977-82, the Visual Artists in Public Service Project, employed over 100 artists in schools and communities throughout Philadelphia; opening the firehouse galleries in 1993; and the print shop building in 1997.

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