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Friday, Dec. 8
The Indiana Daily Student


Capturing the world through Ink

Artist discusses form and function of prints and his own life.

Many lessons students learn at IU will take place outside the walls of the classroom. In a population that brings together students and faculty from all over the world to share ideas, a hidden curriculum presents itself throughout the community. It is evident in the many opportunities at IU for learning about the cultures of others.\nOne such opportunity is a new exhibit titled "Rudy Pozzatti: A Printmaker's Odyssey," which will open to the public at the IU Art Museum Saturday and ends May 5. The exhibit is funded by the Richard Florsheim Art Fund, the IU Foundation, the Bloomington Area Arts Council Inc., the Indiana Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts. It will feature more than 70 pieces -- mostly prints -- organized with a basis on Pozzatti's many themes.\nAs you enter the exhibit, you walk past a large print of a raven. Pozzatti learned while studying in Japan that the Japanese embrace the bird as a symbol of good fortune.\nIU Art Museum curator Nann Brewer said it was placed there to wish all viewers of the exhibit a good omen of things to come. She considers Pozzatti a modern renaissance man. \n"He is a prolific artist and also an entrepreneur," she said.\n"I thought it was a wonderful way to bring da Vinci into the 20th century," Pozzatti said. "I often wonder what he could do now with our technology."\nWhen Pozzatti began making "Mr. President" in 1976, it was, as Pozzatti said, "red, white and blue -- a very patriotic piece. It attempted to deal with the overwhelming aspect of the presidency," he said. \nWhile Pozzatti was making the print, the Watergate Scandal broke out. Pozzatti remembers being enraged. \nThis event changed the piece entirely. The present version sharply contrasts the good of presidents such as Kennedy and Lincoln to Richard Nixon and his corruption. \nWhile walking with his wife in 1991, a tree in Hoosier Acres caught Pozzatti's eye. In 2001 he printed "Spring Medusa," a piece based on this tree. This piece will also be on display in the exhibit.\nPozzatti's works are featured in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Museum of Art in Sydney, the Pushkin Museum in Moscow and the Bibliotheque National in Paris. He has taught at Ohio University, the Institute of Art in Masa, Italy, and the University of Nebraska, and was deemed distinguished professor Emeritus at IU's Henry Radford Hope School of Fine Arts, where he taught for 40 years. Pozzatti is also responsible for founding the Echo Press at IU in 1979, a fine arts printmaking workshop. Brewer said Pozzatti has left the University "a legacy of art to be studied by future students."\nThe Echo Press was a high-level workshop that admitted eight to 12 students per year. Students would watch well-established professional artists work pieces from start to finish. Pozzatti refers to it as "one of the best things I ever did at IU. That kind of training doesn't come in a classroom; the kids were never the same."\nPeagram Harrison, a private art dealer, was a colleague of Pozzatti's at the Echo Press. She has known him for more than 30 years.\n"One of Rudy's best qualities is his generosity," she said. "He was very willing to share knowledge with students and colleagues."\nHarrison said Pozzatti helped her to get a job at an art gallery in Atlanta. While applying for the job, Pozzatti told her that he had met her before. Harrison had no recollection of meeting Pozzatti, but the gallery was so impressed that she was from IU and knew Pozzatti that they hired her on the spot.\nThe Echo Press lasted 16 years. In the early 1990s art sales hit an all-time low in America. Pozzatti remembers the sorrow of the University pulling the financial plug.\n"It didn't seem like that much of an operation to them. They never really interviewed any of the students," he said. "The concerns were in 1992, (but) by '95 when they cut us, we were well on our way toward rebounding."\nHe also said IU was scared about his retirement and the future of the press.\n"When they cut the program I was still there all the time for fun," he said. "It offered an incentive to bring graduate students from across the world, and very few other universities offered that.\n"Somebody reading figures on a piece of paper in some other office made the final decision."\nHarrison passionately remembers, "we gave 16 years of our lives; it was a big deal."\nPozzatti was born in the mining town of Telluride, Colo., in January 1925. He was drafted into the U.S. Army after finishing his first year at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Pozzatti said goodbye to his then-fiancée Dorothy and went to fight in World War II, where he served in the Seventh Army under George Patton in the Battle of the Bulge. He said his service provided motivation for him and put his life into perspective.\n"When I got out of the service I wasn't much older, but I was a hell of a lot smarter," he said.\nPozzatti married Dorothy three weeks after he returned. He chuckled remembering it and said, "we couldn't wait."\nUpon returning from the war, Pozzatti finished his bachelor's degree in fine arts in Boulder and remained there for his master's. Pozzatti originally was involved in painting, drawing and sculpture. While attending Colorado he came under the tutelage of Wendell Black. Black had been a student in the first class taught by Mauricio Lasansky, who is widely recognized for the revival of artistic printmaking in the United States.\n"I just fell in love with printmaking," Pozzatti said. "There is a physical aspect involved. One can do so many things with so many different media. I guess I just feel very close to what I feel in nature when dealing with these materials."\nPozzatti began teaching as a professor at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln in 1950, the same year he received his master's degree. He taught there for six years until Henry Radford Hope recruited him to come to Bloomington.\nPozzatti has fond memories of his experience at IU.\n"When I came here there were 15,000 students, and the town of Bloomington was much smaller," he said. "There was less administration and a larger emphasis on the classroom. We just had a great faculty with big dreams and lots of determination."\nPozzatti said he is very thankful that IU was willing to let him see the world and still be a professor. At the time, his art career was starting to boom. He was receiving government grants to study abroad, including a prestigious Guggenheim grant.\nPozzatti remembers worrying that it would be hard for him to be a good professor if he left every once and a while to study overseas.\nFortunately, Hope was willing to let Pozzatti explore his options. He told Pozzatti that his studies abroad would make him a better teacher at IU.\nPozzatti said he is grateful to have worked under him.\n"He looked at me and told me to take every opportunity I could," he said. "I'm so thankful to have worked at a university that allowed this to happen."\nPozzatti studied all over the world in places such as Hawaii, Italy, Brazil, Japan, Tahiti and the former Soviet Union. He said he would take his wife and kids whenever possible.\nHe laughed when he recalled telling his five children, "I may have dragged you all over hell's half acre, but you will benefit from the knowledge."\nPozzatti lists Hawaii, Tahiti, Brazil and Italy as his favorite places to have studied. \n"Brazil and Italy are the best places I've ever seen in terms of how artists live," he said. "Art appears in the buildings; everywhere you look art is present. It has a tremendous influence on the way they live their lives."\nPozzatti insists that traveling the globe and understanding as many cultures as possible has no price tag.\n"I've been very fortunate to see all these places, live in them and work in them," he said. "If people would take interest in the world, we would have fewer differences. I've found that while people speak different languages, they tend to have the same goals, dreams, and aspirations."\nPozzatti said he always told his students of campus events and stressed to them the importance of extra-curricular learning.\n"The whole university should be educating you," he said.\nPozzatti remembers suggesting to the IU president that students should have two years just to find out what they want to do.\n"When students become focused you really see what their abilities are," he said. "We can't be in such a damn hurry. A big problem about universities today is that they are all about money. It wasn't always like that."\nToday Pozzatti is retired and lives with his wife in Bloomington. He said his inspiration now comes from his travel notebooks and many slides of his travels. He said is grateful to now have time to tend to his many goals.\nPozzatti said his next big project is making prints of the 12 labors of Hercules. He has 125 drawings from his trip to Bellagio, Italy in 1995 to help him make the prints.

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