Professor Craig Zammiello Participates in Group Show: 'Photography in Ink'

Mădălina Telea Borteș
February 22, 2023

Until March 15, 2023, two hand-pulled photogravure prints from the series A, B, C, D, E by Adjunct Assistant Professor of Visual Arts Craig Zammiello are on display at the Penumbra Foundation’s group exhibition, Photography in Ink. The prints on view, A and C, are based on the 1921 Thompson submachine gun, which was “the preferred weapon of the 1930 bank robbers” and “the last killing machine that also incorporated design style into its fabrication,” Zammiello explains. 

That design is the subject of the photographs more so than the gun as weapon, symbol, or object. This is most apparent in A (8” x 17” 15/16th,” hand-pulled photogravure, 2014), a close-up of “the end of the barrel containing the front site and the slotted Cutts Compensator.” To the uninformed viewer, the image could pass for a close up of a 1930s style microphone, and it is only on further inspection that one might interpret the bottom fourth of the object as belonging to a gun’s barrel. In contrast, in C (8” x 17” 15/16th,” hand-pulled photogravure, 2014), a viewer might guess that they are viewing a close-up of a gun’s barrel, but upon reading the image’s caption, one learns that it is not a hyper-close-up of steel one is viewing, but rather “the bottom of the [gun’s] front wooden fore grip, made of walnut.” 

These wild deviations in interpretation, while certainly supported by the placard-less walls of the gallery, are consonant with Zammiello’s intention, expressed on the Foundation’s site, to remove the objects photographed so far from their context that they may “stand alone as testaments to basic machinery form.” 

This drastic stripping of the context also lends itself to an observation that is very much in tune with the subject of the group show: the materiality of the analog image-making process. In Zammiello’s prints, as well as in a host of others’, ranging from Milagros de la Torre to Robert Mapplethorpe, the ink used in the printing process is foregrounded as a medium akin to paint on a canvas. One simply cannot ignore the great degree of collaboration and submission to the chemical and mechanical processes that photogravure-making demands of the artist developing the image into solid, inky form. 

Craig Zammiello is a Master Printer with over 40 years of experience in all areas of printmaking.  He is the author of a studio manual on photogravure, and the book Conversations from the Print Studio published by Yale University Press. He received his MFA from SUNY Stony Brook in 1995. He has taught numerous workshops and classes at New York University, Yale University, The Robert Blackburn Printmaking Studio, the Royal Academy of Antwerp and the Flemish Center for the Graphic Arts in Belgium. Zammiello has exhibited his work in the US and abroad.  His prints can be found in the collections of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Belgium, Yale University Art Gallery, and the Hoesch Museum in Düren, Germany.