Kimberley Bursic started at Tyler Graphics Ltd in 1997 at the Mount Kisco workshop. She continued to work at TGL until the summer of 2000, and was involved in several major projects by Frank Stella, including Juam from the Imaginary places series. Below, Kimberley recalls her first impressions of working at TGL:

I was hired at Tyler Graphics as an etching printer sight unseen. I was working at a non-profit art studio, founded by artist James Lavador, called Crow’s Shadow Institute, on the Umatilla Indian Reservation in eastern Oregon. Ken was looking for an additional printer for Frank Stella’s Juam project. I was referred to Ken by one of his printers. Prior to arriving at TGL, I had worked on standard sized presses, printing one, two maybe three colors to a print, I had worked with and printed for well known artists; and I felt that I “knew” how to print. But I did not know how to print Ken Tyler style.

My first day on the job was also my first time meeting Ken and seeing the shop with its print studio, artist studio, gallery, papermaking studio, framing/curatorial department, screen printing shop, two large litho presses, three etching presses, a combination etching/litho press, plate processing and darkroom, to name a few.  It was amazing and overwhelming.

The entire shop staff was devoted to the production of the Juam project. I was put to task hand painting the string of aluminum rings. The rings were to be painted several different colors, edged in a darker color, all free-hand. The colors needed to be painted in the same order, the same way, edged the exact same thickness for each print. As always, there were to be no mistakes. The etching and relief elements of the print were the final layer. The paper for Juam was handmade and shaped on a mould so that the center edges undulated and fit together. The paper had areas of dyed paper pulp, offset printing, and screen-printing already on it when it arrived to us.

I kept my head down and worked with as steady of a hand as I could muster while Ken, John Hutcheson and Tony Kirk took turns eyeing my progress. Close to the end of that long, nerve-wracking day, the three of them were discussing my work within close earshot: “blah blah, how did she do?”, “Blah blah should we keep her…” and “she took to it [the work] like a duck to water”. From there I graduated to the blend relief roll, a la poupée, trick wiping the cage/smoke rings and wiping and rolling the aluminum slag. None of these techniques had I done before on such scale, with precision all day long everyday! It was a very intense project and a huge personal achievement for me.

Occasionally, I would assist Larry Sheldon in the Curatorial Department, pulling prints from the archives for shows or clients. The series of prints that Joan Mitchell made with Ken at TGL, before her death, are so beautiful. I had not met her work before seeing these prints. I was amazed by the delicate brushwork captured on the litho plate, the vibrant colors, and layering of brush strokes. I often think of those prints and have spent much time seeking out her paintings and studying her technique.

I am a practicing artist. I have turned to painting on paper as my medium of expression. I exhibit in the Washington DC area, where I live. I often think of the artists I met at Tyler Graphics and ask myself what is it about their art making that makes the grade? Albeit, the artists of TGL were late career, established artists. Their art is institutional. So, thinking about their images, seeing them work on proofs and hearing what they say about how the print was developing has taught me to question my art technique and push myself to look critically at the artwork till I think it is finished, or worth making multiples of.

Yasuyuki Shibata and Anthony Kirk registering handmade, hand-coloured paper onto inked assembled plate for Frank Stella's Juam on hydraulic platen press bed in preparation for printing, Tyler Graphics Ltd., Mount Kisco, New York, 1997. Photographer: Marabeth Cohen-Tyler

Kimberley Bursic using a brush to ink stainless steel rings for Frank Stella's Juam, Tyler Graphics Ltd., Mount Kisco, New York, 1997. Photographer: Marabeth Cohen-Tyler

Frank Stella Juam 1997, relief, etching, aquatint, lithograph, screenprint, woodcut, engraving, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Purchased with the assistance of the Orde Poynton Fund 2002
© Frank Stella/ARS. Licensed by Viscopy

Further information will be added to this site as the National Gallery proceeds with its research and documentation.

Last updated January 2017