Houston-based artist Anne-Joëlle Galley can’t remember where she was when she heard about the electrical fire that broke out at The Printing Museum in May, but she clearly remembers the feeling. “Of all places to have a fire,” says Galley, “in a place that has so much — first so much history, and then so much paper.”
The painter, colorist and printmaker — named one of our “100 Creatives” in 2014 — has a long history with the museum, beginning when she decided to enroll in a private workshop with artist-in-residence Charles Criner. Since then, she’s become something of a fixture, hours spent learning the intricacies of stone lithography as curious kids, led by Criner, toured past her, each one leaving with a copy of the Declaration of Independence — hot off the museum’s 19th-century, Columbian iron presses.
“It’s not one of the big, flashy museums, but it’s still a little jewel,” says Galley. “It’s an art that is disappearing with all the technology and computers, and it’s a place that is trying to keep that old-fashioned letterpress, bookbinding, printing (like I did) alive.”
Together with Criner, Galley began work on a scarf in honor of the museum, the very place she debuted her first collection of scarves in 2014. At the time of the fire, she had already received board approval and permission to use the museum’s logo, but her sense of urgency increased as she realized the opportunity in her hands.
Galley played with collage and color (“I’m very much into color,” says Galley. “It’s one of the drivers of everything I do.”) and used a special printmaking technique, chine-collé, in which a thin, delicate paper is bonded to a thicker paper, to create texture. “It makes it [look] even more alive,” she says.
The finished product, the “West Clay,” named for the street on which the museum sits, is a vibrant square of silk twill, a black floral pattern set against a bright background of blues, oranges and pinks.
And half of the $355 price tag will go straight to the museum, still closed, to aid in recovery efforts.
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“I know it might not sound as important as giving to the homeless or people who are really suffering,” says Galley. “I’m totally aware of that, yet there is another element of the culture and maintaining this knowledge of the past, [keeping] history alive, and I think that’s really important.
“There aren’t many museums like this around the world.”
The “West Clay” is now available at annejoelledesigns.com.
In honor of The Printing Museum’s 35th anniversary in 2017, the museum has launched “$35 for 35,” a campaign encouraging potential donors to give in $35 increments. For information about the museum, including ways to offer support, visit printingmuseum.org.