Maryville native Galen Gibson-Cornell will depart for Budapest, Hungary, next month for a year of post-graduate study in lithography funded through the Fulbright Program.
Founded in 1946 by U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright, and considered one of the world's most prestigious academic and cultural initiatives, the program provides merit-based international exchange grants to students, scholars, teachers, professionals, scientists and artists.
Gibson-Cornell, who graduated from Maryville High School in 2005, recently received a master's degree in fine arts with a concentration in printmaking from the University of Wisconsin in Madison.
He is the son of Cheryl Cornell, who teaches technology at St. Gregory's School in Maryville and Chris Gibson, a professor of music at Northwest Missouri State University.
Gibson-Cornell began making art in a serious way in high school, when he created numerous paintings and drawings and worked in various other media. He continued to hone his creative skills at Truman State University in Kirksville, where he specialized in lithography and earned a bachelor's degree in fine arts in 2009.
Similar to the mechanized process used to print newspapers, lithography is employed by artists to produce high-quality prints with 200-year-old techniques and hand-operated presses.
It is based on the simple principle that oil and water don't mix.
Though methods differ, fine art lithographers like Gibson-Cornell use grease or wax to render images on a limestone plate (litho means 'rock'). The completed image is then coated with a water-based solution. Ink adheres to the oil-based image but is repelled by the water, thus creating a design that can be transferred to paper using a press.
Printing pictures by hand may seem like a dicey way to make a living in the technology-driven 21st century. But Gibson-Cornell is rapidly proving he has the right stuff to make it in the highly competitive world of fine art.
While still at Truman he completed a study-abroad experience in France, where he worked in a lithography shop using presses well over a century old. Later, while in graduate school, he traveled to Italy, where his work was displayed in an art school gallery in Florence.
On both trips, Gibson-Cornell took advantage of the opportunity to acquire knowledge from artists working in traditions stretching back to the creation of his craft in the 1790s.
In addition to Italy and Europe, Gibson-Cornell's work has also been displayed in Madison, Wis.; Milwaukee, Wis.; New Orleans, La; Syracuse, N.Y.; and galleries in Minnesota.
Now, as a Fulbright scholar, Gibson-Cornell is heading overseas again, this time in hopes of developing a cooperative community of lithographers working both in the United States and Hungary.
"The nature of the Fulbright is to foster international cooperation, and lithography plays into that because it requires a communal space and invites a community to form," he said. "Also, you're using processes that allow you to make multiple copies, so the art can be in both places."
Page 2 of 2 - Another goal of his year in Hungary, Gibson-Cornell said, is to study and render into printed images the emotional and physical textures of the country's capital and largest city — in essence to create what he calls an "urban portrait of Budapest."
To accomplish that mission he will collaborate with three of city's leading art institutions: the Hungarian University of Fine Art, the Art Union of Hungarian Etchers & Lithographers and Printa, a screen-printing collective.
Ultimately, the work of Gibson-Cornell and other artists will be displayed through a printmaking exchange with exhibits in both Budapest and at the University of Wisconsin.
"The hope is that it will be ongoing," he said. "Professors at both institutions have agreed to sponsor the project in the future