The object of this group is to further the interest of both artists and laymen in print making and collecting.
---C.A. Seward, 1930
The Prairie Print Makers group was formed on December 28, 1930, when 11 of Kansas' best artists gathered in the Lindsborg studio of Swedish-born artist Birger Sandzen. These Prairie Print Makers planned to offer affordable artwork that would appeal to collectors. They created etchings, silkscreens, linoleum cuts, block prints, and lithographs.
Illustrated at left: Birger Sandzen, Farm on Smoky River, 1936. Lithograph, 16 1/8 x 20 inches. Wichita Art Museum, Gift of Virginia Vollmer Barr, Clarence E. Vollmer Collection
Within four years of its founding, the group boasted forty-seven active Members and over one hundred associate Members, a testament to this exceptional group of artist friends brought together by their passion for printmaking. Until the Prairie Print Makers disbanded in 1965, they never raised their $1 annual membership fee.
Leading the formation of the group was artist C.A. Seward (pictured at left). Seward settled in Wichita in 1907 and soon after established one of the few fine-printing services outside of New York City, wrote a foundational text on lithography, organized low-cost travelling exhibitions for communities and schools, and helped to establish the Prairie Print Makers. His efforts fostered a vital arts community in Wichita with a singular goal--to bring art into everyone's life.
C.A. Seward, the Secretary-Treasurer of the Prairie Print Makers, was also instrumental in the founding of the Wichita Art Museum. Since 1937, WAM has been featuring exhibitions of printmaking, many of which focused on the products of this famous artistic group. Click here to download a PDF document of print exhibitions.
The Wichita Art Museum is poised to become THE cultural repository for the Prairie Print Makers in the region. WAM's collection reflects the importance of the Prairie Print Makers to the city, which still embraces a strong printmaking community and many dedicated print collectors. Click here to download an illustrated PDF document of recent acquisitions.