Stephanie Santana: Ways of Knowing

Martie Zelt: Land Strider

(left to right) Nancy Hellebrand, Untitled BO 8943, 2024; Stephanie Santana, Safe Passage, 2024. Photo: Shawn Inglima; Martie Zelt, Untitled, 1980. Courtesy of Brandywine Workshop and Archives.

April 19 – July 20, 2024

The Print Center is pleased to present three solo exhibitions featuring artists whose interests in image-making go hand-in-hand with their shrewd and responsive uses of artistic materials.

We are honored to concurrently exhibit three generations of women artists whose work affirms the continued relevance of the feminist phrase, “the personal is political” – in which individual women’s personal experiences implicate their political context, deeming them worthy of social deliberation. The new work by Hellebrand and Santana, and Zelt’s work from the 1970s and 1980s, was selected for presentation in conjunction with (re)FOCUS 2024, a Philadelphia citywide festival showing the movement of women-identified and BIPOC artists from the periphery to the center of the art world in the fifty years since the original FOCUS initiative in 1974. Each artist explores how abstract and representational imagemaking is combined with material exploration of surface and tactility to express women’s concerns of their time.

As an organization, we are grateful for the opportunity to recall the original 1974 FOCUS, for which The Print Center presented the exhibition “Women Printmakers,” juried by Harry Lunn (Director, Graphics International, Washington, DC) and Howardena Pindell (Assistant Curator of Prints and Illustrated Books, Museum of Modern Art), that showcased the work of 23 artists, including Martie Zelt. Now, as then, we maintain belief in the vitality of printmaking to serve myriad artists’ personal and political voices.

– Lauren Rosenblum, Jensen Bryan Curator


All of The Print Center’s exhibitions and programs are free and open to the public.

Gallery Talk + Opening Reception

Thursday, April 18, 5:30 – 7:30pm 

Conversation: Stephanie Santana

Thursday, May 2, 6pm
On Zoom

Conversation: Nancy Hellebrand

Thursday, May 9, 6pm
In-person and on Zoom


EVERYBODYBEAUTIFUL presents a selection from Nancy Hellebrand’s ongoing series, “Naked,” begun in 2017, of nude portraits of older women. This work skillfully explores societal norms around beauty, gender and age. Reflecting upon her experiences as an aging woman, the artist recognized that societal perceptions of her intellect and beauty had diminished despite her blossoming sense of self, her growing appreciation of the people around her and her invigorated political drive. With this series, Hellebrand captures the physical truth of aging with great compassion, respect and admiration. As she states, “We see women’s stories embedded in their flesh.” This exhibition presents Hellebrand’s images on delicate paper and on plaster, printed as tonally rich photogravures, a 19th century photomechanical process initially used to produce high-quality commercial reproductions. Today, artists value its ability to capture minute detail, to hold rich tones and to bestow a visual softness that results in an enchanting picture unlike any other process. 

The artist welcomes models of all sizes, races and abilities, and makes a great effort to provide a comfortable working atmosphere for her sitters so she can capture them in their most relaxed state. After the photography sessions, many came to understand that their aged bodies were worthy subjects, often changing the attitude they brought into the endeavor. In the words of one sitter, “Going against the cultural grain, [Hellebrand] did not want to photograph youthful beauty. Instead, she used scars, stretch marks, folds and lumps to reveal the stories of women who birth children, endure disease and enjoy worldly pleasures.” By photographing the women from the neck down, Hellebrand focuses the viewer’s attention solely on the landscape of the body. Whether on paper or plaster, these meticulously crafted photogravures affirm the artist’s commitment to presenting these bodies as worthy and beautiful subjects. Read more in the Gallery Notes.



Nancy Hellebrand (American, b.1944, Philadelphia, PA; lives Philadelphia) attended the University of Southern California, Los Angeles; Boston University, MA; and has a BA from Columbia University, New York, NY. She studied photography with Bill Brandt, Alexey Brodovitch and John Coplans, each of whom influenced her deeply. Hellebrand was the first American, and the first living woman, to have a solo exhibition at The National Portrait Gallery, London, UK; and has also had solo exhibitions at Halsted Gallery, Detroit, MI; James A. Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, PA; Erie Art Museum, PA; Museum of the Southwest, Midland, TX; Parthenon Museum, Nashville, TN; Light Gallery and Pace/MacGill, both New York, NY; and Locks Gallery, Paul Cava Gallery and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, all Philadelphia. She has been included in many group exhibitions, including at Allentown Art Museum, PA; Southeast Museum of Photography, Daytona Beach, FL; Arcadia University, Glenside, PA; Haverford College, PA; International Center of Photography, Light Gallery and Museum of Modern Art, all New York, NY; Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia Art Alliance, Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Photography Place and The Print Center, all Philadelphia; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond; Tampa Museum of Art, FL; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; as well as Kunstverein, Frankfurt, Germany; Tate Liverpool, UK; and the Barbican Centre and Tate Britain, both London, UK.

Hellebrand’s photographs are in the collections of the Allentown Art Museum; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT; Museum of Modern Art; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Princeton University Art Museum, NJ; and the Museum of the City of London, UK. She has received fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Her work has been widely reviewed in periodicals including American Photographers, Aperture, Artforum, Artnet Magazine, Modern Photography, The New York Times, The New Yorker, People Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Magazine, The Photo Review, Print Collectors Newsletter and The Village Voice. She has two monographs dedicated to her work and has been included in numerous other publications. As an educator, Hellebrand taught photography at Bucks County Community College, Newtown, PA; Yale University; Parsons School of Design, The New School, New York, NY; and the University of the Arts, Philadelphia.

Stephanie Santana: Ways of Knowing

In Ways of Knowing, Stephanie Santana’s prints and constructed mixed-media textile works explore interior worlds, mythologies, navigational tools and resistance strategies of African diasporic origins. The works are part of a larger body called “The Wayfinding Series,” which Santana began in 2022 and describes as “honoring Black women as wayfinders, planners, travelers, strategists, timeline jumpers and archivists.” With it, she endeavors to visualize and understand what her Black matriarchal ancestors experienced on an intuitive and emotional level and examine how their concerns are relevant in the present day.

Santana’s process is one of discovery and deliberation. Over time, the artist has assembled a working archive comprising personal photographs of her own childhood and cherished women in her extended family, along with historical vernacular photographs of anonymous Black matriarchs. The same women appear multiple times within a single work and reappear across multiple pieces. The artist describes her decision-making process on materials and techniques to employ as a sequence of “responsive encounters” with these photographs. The images are transferred and translated several times over; they are screenprinted and monoprinted onto fabric that is then reused in numerous ways using traditional quilting techniques. To this, she adds hand-stitched embroidery, much like a series of visual annotations that directly engage with both the figures on the surface and the colorful abstract forms surrounding them.



Through the processes of printing, sewing and embroidery, the artist meditates on the lessons absorbed through this labor-intensive work. Santana asks herself and her audience, “How is information transmitted, and how does it change shape, shift and distort as it is passed?” Her printed textile works construct a bridge through time and geography. Information is revealed, prescribed societal roles are challenged, and alternative spaces of knowledge and self-definition are discovered. Read more in the Gallery Notes.

Photo: Noemie Marguerite

Stephanie Santana (American, b.1984, Los Angeles, CA; lives Brooklyn, NY) is a visual artist whose practice is rooted in the expansive traditions of textile arts and fine art printmaking. She received a BA in Communication Studies from Western Washington University, Bellingham, in 2006 and an AAS in Textile/Surface Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, in 2018.

Santana’s work has been exhibited in group shows at The John & Robyn Horn Gallery, Penland School of Craft, Bakersville, NC; Museum of Fine Arts Boston, MA; Highpoint Center for Printmaking, Minneapolis, MN; and the Claire Oliver Gallery, EFA Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, all New York, NY. It is held in both private and public collections, including the Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, and Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA. Santana has presented lectures and workshops at academic and cultural institutions including The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, all Philadelphia, PA. She was a 2023 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow in Printmaking/Drawing/Book Arts, a Finalist in The Print Center’s 97th ANNUAL International Competition and was awarded a Kahn Mason Studio Immersion Project Fellowship at the EFA Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop. She has received generous support from the Windgate Foundation and Sustainable Arts Foundation. Santana is a founding member of Black Women of Print – an organization for independent mid-career and established Black women printmakers – as well as a member of The Santana Project – an intergenerational, interdisciplinary art collective.

Martie Zelt: Land Strider

Land Strider surveys Martie Zelt’s lifetime of work in printmaking and handmade paperworks, focused on her innovations in these processes during the 1970s and 80s. The exhibition’s title, Land Strider, is drawn from one of the artworks in the show as an apt description of both Zelt’s nomadic life between the regions of Philadelphia and New Mexico, and her primary artistic interests in rural and urban topographies.

Zelt was the first artist in Philadelphia to embrace photoscreenprinting techniques for creating fine art prints. Her large geometric abstractions feature reduced forms and bold colors. After an encounter in 1976 with papermaker Joe Wilfer of the Upper U.S. Paper Mill in Wisconsin, Zelt further embraced tactility, and started making her own paper from pulp. The introduction of handmade paper directly into her prints, sometimes as a support and, on other occasions, as independent abstract elements, had a monumental impact. Geometric shapes remained at the center of her visual language but, over time, lost their hard edges, rigidity and angularity. Zelt commented, “The segmentation and geometry in my work has never been disassociated from notes taken from the natural world around me.” These new, highly textured paperworks appear as complex topographies that recall the cultures of the two places she alternately called home – Philadelphia and New Mexico – as viewed from above. 



During the mid-1980s, Zelt’s relationship to print and papermaking advanced again. She began to draw upon even more dynamic materials – including store-bought fabrics, fake fur, sequins, glitter, Velcro snaps, acrylic paint, fishhooks, metal hinges, twine, machine sewing, linen thread – and layered them with numerous printmaking techniques – lithography, photoetching, woodcut, collagraphy and Xerox – within a single work hung from a wooden dowel. With the embrace of these varied and sundry materials, her landscapes incorporated the detritus of everyday life. Zelt commented, “You can’t look at my work like you do a picture. I don’t use printing for imagery, but rather for texture and color in the same way that I use the surface of handmade paper.” The mesmerizing prints and paperworks shared in Land Strider are a testament to Martie Zelt’s lifelong commitment to pursuing creative fulfillment and innovation. 

The Print Center is grateful to Catherine De Maria of Warehouse 1-10 in Magdalena, New Mexico, for facilitating the loan of Martie Zelt’s final artwork, Untitled, 2023, for display in this commemorative exhibition. Read more in the Gallery Notes.

Photo: Roswell Daily Record

Martie Zelt (American, b.1930, Washington, PA; d.2023, Roswell, NM) was an important figure in the Philadelphia printmaking scene of the 1970s and is known for her vibrant screenprints and meticulously crafted paperworks. She studied at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque; Connecticut College, New London; the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), Philadelphia; New School for Social Research, New York; Museum of Modern Art of São Paulo, Brazil; and ultimately received a BFA from Tyler School of Art & Architecture, Temple University, Philadelphia.

Zelt began teaching in Philadelphia in the 1960s, including for Prints in Progress at The Print Center, PAFA and the University of the Arts. Her exhibition record in and outside of Philadelphia is extensive, including more than 20 exhibitions at The Print Center, including the 1974 show, Women Printmakers, as part of the citywide feminist art initiative FOCUS, and a solo show in 1975. Zelt printed at the Brandywine Workshop and Archive, Philadelphia, and Tamarind Institute, Albuquerque, and her work was included in the Brooklyn Museum’s publication Thirty Years of American Printmaking (1976). Zelt spent the latter part of her life in Roswell, NM, designing and creating a 32’ mosaic mural for the Civic Center and a hand-crafted tile mural for the Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge. While in the Southwest, she received a Fulbright Grant, with which she set up a papermaking studio in Veracruz, Mexico. She was awarded two Roswell (NM) Artist-in-Residence Program (RAiR) grants.

In her lifetime, Zelt had solo shows at the Brooklyn Museum, NY; Dolan/Maxwell Gallery, Marian Locks Gallery and PAFA, all Philadelphia; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA; and the Roswell Museum, NM. Her work has appeared in group exhibitions in the United States and elsewhere, many of which acknowledge her contribution to innovation in paperworks during the 1980s. She is included in public collections across the United States, including the University of New Mexico Museum, Albuquerque; Brooklyn Museum; Yale University, New Haven, CT; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Princeton University, NJ; Roswell Museum; and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC. The estate of the artist is represented by Warehouse 1-10, Magdalena, NM. 

These exhibitions are presented in conjunction with

(re)FOCUS celebrates the 50th anniversary of Philadelphia Focuses on Women in the Visual Arts/1974, a citywide festival recognizing women artists. With over 150 exhibitions, panels, lectures, workshops and demonstrations, it was one of the first large-scale surveys of the work of contemporary American women artists, signaling the inception of the American Feminist Art Movement. (re)FOCUS 2024 is also a Philadelphia citywide festival showing how women-identified and BIPOC artists have moved from the periphery to the center of the art world. Like its 1974 predecessor, (re)FOCUS is a collaboration among Philadelphia’s large, small, and diverse visual arts institutions.