By Susan Dunne for the Hartford Courant
The University of Connecticut and the art academy in Krakow, Poland, have a special relationship. For many years, starting in 1985, when Poland was still behind the Iron Curtain, an unofficial exchange program sprang up among printmakers from both colleges, leading to an exhibit of Polish prints that same year.
“It was an eye-opening exhibition. At that time there was not much stuff from central and eastern Europe on exhibit in this country,” says Gus Mazzocca, a professor emeritus at UConn.
A new exhibit up now at William Benton Museum of Art on the UConn campus in Storrs celebrates that collaboration, with a collection of prints made in Krakow from 1960 to 1990. The exhibit also is instructional, as it focuses on various types of printmaking — mezzotint, woodcut, silkscreen, linocut, etching, aquatint and engraving — and explains how to do them.
Mazzocca, of West Hartford, taught printmaking from 1970 to 2012. Some of the prints in the show, he says, symbolize the everyday realities of living in a Soviet bloc country.
Mieczyslaw Wejman’s etching “The Cyclist” shows a chaotic scene, with a bicyclist having just had an accident, while the business of a factory goes on around him.
“Sometimes when bad things happen, people are paying attention, but sometimes they are going on their way,” Mazzocca says. “The landscape, with its dark, gulag kind of architecture, reflects the communist situation.”