Campus News

Traveling exhibition celebrates American graphic art tradition

Silas Green poster-V.Poster
Each poster in the exhibition is handcrafted from hard-carved wood blocks.

American Letterpress: The Art of Hatch Show Print will be on display at the Georgia Museum of Art until Nov. 26. Featuring the work of one of the nation’s oldest and continuously printing shops—Nashville, Tenn.’s Hatch Show Print—it highlights 126 historical and contemporary posters and 29 hand-carved wooden blocks—some on view for the very first time.

Whether in posters promoting a Johnny Cash concert or a carnival performance or capturing the modern-day verve of a concert by Coldplay or The Strokes, posters printed by Hatch Show Print capture the heralded traditions of American letterpress printing and graphic art at their very best.

For much of the 20th century, Hatch’s vibrant posters served as a leading advertising medium for Southern entertainment—from minstrel shows to magicians and opera singers to Negro League baseball games and B-movies.

Each Hatch Show Print poster is a unique creation, individually handcrafted and inked onto paper in a painstaking process that dates back to the 15th century.

This process, known as letterpress, involves inking hand-carved wood blocks and metal photo plates and type that are then pressed onto paper to form an image.

The shop that produces these colorful posters has long been a downtown Nashville landmark and the guardian of a very special piece of Americana. Now owned and operated by the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Hatch Show Print not only carefully re-strikes some of the original, hand-carved wood blocks to reproduce classic images on the massive, old letterpresses, but also designs and prints more than 600 new compositions each year, continuing in the firm’s tradition.

The exhibition will be showcased at Family Day on Oct. 8.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the museum will host its fall fundraiser, Highfalutin’ Hootenanny, on Oct. 14 at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $50-$75.