Belen Yudess ’25
Social Media Manager
The city of Claremont has a rich history of art surrounding the Claremont Colleges, little of which is actively taught to students. We may pass by their artwork, or buildings named after them, but how often do we acknowledge how these early artists revolutionized the art in our community? (Curatorial Statement)
On March 4, Claremont Heritage opened its newest exhibit “RePrinting Claremont: Uniting Claremont’s Historic Printmakers with Student Artists,” at the Ginger Elliot Exhibit at the Garner House. The show was curated by Marina Shishkina ’25 and Stella Robinson ’25. The exhibit features the work of well-known printmakers including Millard Sheets, Susan Lautman Hertel, Karl Benjamin, and Kitty Maryatt, as well as pieces from current 5C students.
The gallery acts as a remarkable tribute and olive branch to the history and continued presence of Claremont printmakers in the city and 5C community. Shishkina describes “Reprinting Claremont” as a way to bridge the gap between the 5Cs and the Claremont community.
“We’re trying to connect that through the history of Claremont because the artists that live here and the artists that are creating here have to be inspired by something,” Shishkina said. “The tie between the colleges, the student creators, and the Claremont creators are Claremont’s nature, community, spirituality, and the energy of the place.”
Shishkina noted that there is an often unknown history of printmaking in Claremont that makes it the ideal spot to focus on this art form. “Claremont’s printing press was first established in 1946 by some faculty at The Claremont Colleges,” Shishkina said. “And ever since then artists have been flocking in because of the press. Millard Sheets, Phil Dyke, Phil Paradise — they’re all really famous printmakers of Claremont that actually formed the whole history of printmaking in southern California.”
Although there are different variations of printmaking, “RePrinting Claremont” mainly focused on serigraphs, lithographs, etching, collagraphs, and monoprints. “We have chosen to showcase some prints in diptychs to demonstrate how printmaking, as an art form, inhabits a long process of repetition, reiteration, and layering,” the curatorial statement reads. “This art medium also allows for easier reproduction processes and enables widespread distribution of imagery and information.”
Our goal in curating this exhibit was to shed light on how the legacy of these legendary artists had a profound impact on The Claremont Colleges, and how Claremont has inspired both them and future artists to produce profound works of art. (Curatorial Statement)
Shishkina and Robinson were funded and supported by Claremont Heritage, a non profit organization that preserves and celebrates the history and culture of the city of Claremont. Although this is Shishkina’s first exhibit with the organization, this is not her first time curating a show.
Last February, Shishkina produced “Lovers, Strangers and Friends” which highlighted the unity of the body, mind and soul through 2D, 3D, and conceptual art. The show was held at an off campus house and was set up by Shishkina and a handful of friends and fellow 5C artists.
Following the success of her previous curation, Shishkina was excited to take on another project. Her job at Claremont Heritage and the nonprofit’s mission inspired the current installation.
“Having access to Claremont’s history, archives, and special collections has really inspired me to be like, ‘holy cow we don’t know anything about this,’” she said. “The first thing that gets me inspired is making a difference somewhere or making a difference in someone’s life. There’s this duty that I feel once I have an idea to change someone’s perspective or introduce a new perspective to somebody. And working there, I realized I have access to all this awesome art.”
Once she made the decision to hone in on printmaking, Shishkina noted that beginning the process of curating this exhibit was a lot simpler than it had been last year. She saw this as a demonstration of curatorial growth. “When you’re doing something for the first time, it is a total free fall type of thing,” she said. “Hopefully there’s a few branches that you can hold onto while you’re falling down. But, this time it’s definitely been a bit easier. It’s a bit more sophisticated and a little more professional because it’s an actual gallery space and not someone’s house. I also have more access to research because I’m here in Claremont.”
Shishkina’s mentality when curating a show focuses on connecting with the space and allowing her imagination to run wild, which is reflected in the exuberant energy of the environments she creates.“Since I was young, I would have those outbursts that artists have,” she said. “But usually artists have those outbursts to create artwork — I have those outbursts to create those events and create those spaces: artwork for the artwork.”
Shishkina was more than ready to take her medium to a new level, and expressed gratitude to the organization’s director David Shearer for his assistance and belief in the gallery. “David has been super helpful — sometimes I need to go to the gallery to see what’s going on and he’d be like, ‘I’ll be there in like 10 minutes’ and open the gallery doors,” Shishkina said. “Sometimes I ask him questions like, ‘I don’t know if this artwork will fit here on this wall,’ and he’s like, ‘just give it a minute.’ He’s been leading me into some sort of direction but I make my own steps and decisions completely. I am so lucky to have found a mentor like that.”
Shishkina is also extremely thankful for Robinson’s input and dedication to the show. “She has been a really big backbone to all of my crazy ideas,” Shishkina said. “She’s very grounding and I think we work together really well. She’s more of a realist in the sense that I’m more like, ‘why don’t we do this,’ and she’s like ‘the show’s next Saturday, let’s take a seat and think about this.’ You always need someone like that and it’s been really awesome to have her.”
Although she gained inspiration from her peers and the history of printmaking in Claremont, Shishkina was especially drawn to the work and legacy of legendary printmaker Millard Sheets. “He always tried to create a community in Claremont and bring people together and introduce people to one another and this is exactly what I want to be doing here,” she said. “I would love to revolutionize Claremont’s art history and create an art movement that has not been brought here. I think he has been the biggest inspiration throughout the whole show.”
Ultimately, “RePrinting Claremont” is an innovative, uplifting, and unique exhibit that has taught Shishkina the importance of cultivating relationships and giving people’s stories a space in the world.
“I just really want students to meet some of Claremont’s locals because they’re really special people,” she said. “And I’ve had the privilege to meet a lot of them in the past few months and they’ve opened doors for me and they could do so for so many other students. They just need to take advantage of it.”
The exhibit will remain open until March 24 at the Ginger Elliot Exhibit at the Garner House.
In curating the show, we aim to build a bridge of dialogue between the Claremont Colleges and our local community. The seating in the space is meant to evoke comfort, and promote conversation with one another. We hope “RePrinting Claremont” sparks new connections and new perspectives of the past. (Curatorial Statement)
Image Source: Belen Yudess ’25