Join us as we delve into the captivating world of printmaker and educator Ron Abram, the final artist of Print Santa Fe’s 5×5 exhibition. According to his interview with Hello, Print Friend, he is as enamored with print as he was after his first pull. Same with teaching. He most definitely seems to be living his best life.

A Year of Exploration
Taking a sabbatical from Denison University this school term, Abram embarked on a whirlwind of artistic exploration — and his latest body of work is showcased in the 5×5 exhibition at Zane Bennett Gallery through this Saturday. His creative journey led him to prestigious printmaking residencies at Art Print Residence in Barcelona, Spain (July 2022, and where he’ll return later this month), In Cahoots Residency in Petaluma, Calif. (September-October 2022), and as a printmaker-in-residence at Temple University Rome in Rome, Italy (February-March 2023).

From Happenstance to Passion
Moving around every few years as a military kid, Abrams had drawing as his constant: that, and MAD Magazines (RIP Al Jaffee). Abram always drew, but he didn’t know what it meant to be an artist until he went to college, where like many, he accidentally fell into printmaking. He received his BFA from the University of Central Florida, Orlando, and his MFA from Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia. While at UCF, Abram studied under Robert Rivers, where he became intrigued by Rivers’s ability to deal with difficult subject matter. While in his Print I class, Abram pumped out an astonishing 60 prints during his first series — a dance of death series on roadkill. This marked the beginning of Abram’s fixation on thematic exploration.

Artwork from the Por Cayetano series

Print Series Unveiled
Abram’s latest body of work, showcased in the 5×5 exhibition, consists of distinct print series that invite viewers to delve into nuanced narratives. The “Por Cayetano” series combines copper etching and photopolymer plates to juxtapose the nude male body within a personal queer space, initiating a dialogue between Catalonian history and his ancestral connection to Cayetano Roger, his great-great-great grandfather who migrated from Palamos, Spain, to Puerto Rico in the 19th century.

In his “Wranglers” series, Abram delves into historical gay erotica, utilizing copper etchings to explore themes of intimate relationships, power dynamics, gender roles, and toxic masculinity within today’s American political landscape. Consisting of twenty 12″ circular prints, these compositions pay homage to the physique magazines of the 1950s that celebrated bodybuilding culture and subverted obscenity charges by intertwining classical art figure posing with homoerotic imagery.

Artwork from the “Wranglers” Series

During his time in Rome, Abram embarked on a more intricate third series, fusing etching and photopolymer print processes. Inspired by the life and work of Italian poet, writer, and filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini, these prints offer a deeper exploration of the complexities of identity, love, and societal norms.

A Captivating Balance
During Abram’s conversation on the Hello, Print Friend podcast, Miranda Metcalf aptly described Abram’s work as a delicate equilibrium between rawness and beauty, discomfort and allure. His prints beckon viewers to confront boundaries and challenge preconceptions.

During his interview with HPF, Abrams mentions his series on fairy tales inspired by a fountain park in what was East Berlin. In this series, he explores animation and sculptural elements alongside traditional prints. You can catch a glimpse of the depth Abrams explores his themes in the short video below.

If the above intrigues you, here’s Rotkäppchen, 2013, Video documentation of the project with additional video links on this vimeo page. Much more project documentation can be found on Abram’s website.

We hope you enjoyed learning more about Ron Abrams and our other 5×5 artists! Our call for entry for our 2024 exhibitions will open in August. Thank you to Denison for the article on Abram’s sabbatical, which we used as a reference for this post.

About the Exhibition
In its inaugural year, Print Santa Fe presents its first 5×5 juried exhibition during the month-long festival. Modeled after PrintAustin’s 5×5 exhibition, which started in 2021 as an online exhibit, five artists are selected based on a cohesive body of work made up of five print-based works. In 2023, PrintAustin added a new dynamic to the open call and had two jurors pulling from identical submissions, creating two separate exhibitions–one hosted by Link&Pin during PrintAustin, and the other to be presented at Zane Bennet Contemporary during the inaugural sister festival in April 2023.

Print Santa Fe’s 5×5 exhibition is juried by Print Santa Fe founder and host of Hello, Print Friend podcast, Miranda Metcalf, alongside Jordan Eddy of Zane Bennett Contemporary, and Isabella Beroutsos of Radius Books. The Print Santa Fe 5×5 presents an exciting group of printmakers on the rise who use the medium to conduct aesthetic investigations into cultural identity and complex histories.

Print Santa Fe partners with Miranda Metcalf and Reinaldo Zambrano of Hello, Print Friend and Jamal Barber of Studio Noize Podcast to conduct interviews with each of the selected artists to dive deeper into their artistic practice and inspiration behind their works.

Acting as the fiscal sponsor of Print Santa Fe, you can support our sister festival by making a donation to PrintAustin. Help us continue our artist-led efforts to share our love of printmaking and helping our sister festival grow!