'It enriched my life': Flatbed Center for Contemporary Printmaking's group show 'Recalling La Romita'
Katherine Brimberry, the owner and director of Austin’s Flatbed Center for Contemporary Printmaking, has been making a voyage to Terni, Italy every two years since 2011. “I was invited to go teach a workshop at a place called La Romita School of Art in Italy,” Brimberry recalls. I never had heard of the place, but I happen to have a sister-in-law who had gone there and had fallen in love with that place.”
Intrigued, Brimberry made that first trip to Terni, leading a printmaking class. “And [I] had a wonderful experience there,” she says. “And everybody that went with me just fell in love with the place. But not only that, the place is so conducive for creating work. And there are opportunities every day to go to a small village or town or art center nearby. So we took advantage of that. And it enriched my life and I know it enriched everybody that went with me that year. And I came back [home] wanting to go back and planned to go back in two more years. And I've been going back every two years.”
After that first session at La Romita, Brimberry partnered with her friend and fellow artist Susan Davidoff for subsequent workshops. “We run it more like a residency because we want to help the artists who come with us develop their skills in print making,” Brimberry says of their biennial Italian trips. “But also we want them to be more free to use printmaking to explore what they want to say and do.”
La Romita became an art school over fifty years ago, but hundreds of years before that, the location was a Capuchin monastery. “And the Capuchin [friars] that lived there grew olives trees, harvested the olives and they were active there. They built a sanctuary,” Brimberry says. “It's cool. It's just a nice place to be. And I’ve found that it's been a great experience for everybody that I've ever taken there.”
Recalling La Romita, an upcoming group show at Flatbed, will highlight many of the works created by Brimberry and Davidoff’s students during their 2022 residency at the art school. “I had the most amazing group that went with us [in] 2022,” Brimberry says. “And they're from all over the country from as far away as Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Texas. And Susie and I were teaching a technique of mono printing… where you use stencils [and it's] very, very colorful. Our group… would hardly stop to eat because they got so excited about what they were doing. And the cool thing afterwards is that they have maintained relationships with each other and are always visiting each other or going to each other's exhibitions. So you can imagine they worked so hard and they did so many wonderful things that I've got a really nice group of prints to show that came out of La Romita.”