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University Bestows Rutgers Award on Artists, Library Benefactors

December 10, 2014
John Ross accepting the Rutgers Award, presented by Judith K. Brodsky and Michael Joseph

John Ross accepting the Rutgers Award, presented by Judith K. Brodsky and Michael Joseph

On November 7, 2014, Rutgers University bestowed the Rutgers University Award on John Ross and Clare Romano, artists, illustrators, printmakers, authors, and library benefactors. The Rutgers Award is the university’s highest non-academic honor and Ross and Romano are only the 10th and 11th of this century’s medal recipients. They are the first artists in this century to win the award, and Clare the first woman.

The award ceremony took place at Alexander Library during the conclusion of The Twentieth Anniversary New Jersey Book Arts Symposium. Begun in 1995, The Symposium is one of the Libraries’ signature events, and Ross and Romano have been two of its most steadfast and creative supporters. Presenting the award were Judith K. Brodsky, the founder of the Brodsky Center for Innovative Editions and a longtime member of the Symposium Advisory Committee; Karen Guancione, the artistic director of the New Jersey Book Arts Symposium; and Michael Joseph, the Symposium’s founding director. Accompanied by his son Tim, Ross accepted the award on his and his wife’s behalf. The presentation ceremony was video-recorded and will become part of RUcore, the Libraries’ digital repository, to be accessible for viewing worldwide.

Ross and Romano are equally well known as artists and authors. Their prints have been collected by galleries, museums, and libraries all over the world. Their experiments with the collagraph in the 1960s revived and popularized this technique in which materials such as cardboard, string, paper or even leaves are applied to a board or plank of wood from which the print is taken. Ross is also known as an innovative book artist, whose press, the High Tide Press, has issued 17 limited editions of his collagraph and typographic prints. As authors, Ross and Romano are particularly renowned for their 1972 publication The Complete Printmaker, which one can find in studios, libraries, and classrooms all over the world.

The award’s citation, signed by Rutgers University President Robert Barchi, commends Ross and Romano for their influence on fine art printmaking, dedicated instruction of generations of students, and deep and lasting impact on the artistic culture of New Jersey.  They were also recognized for their longstanding support of both the Libraries and of printmaking programs at the university.

The Rutgers Award was first presented in 1934 during the presidency of Robert Clarkson Clothier, the university’s 14th president. Conceived during the dark days of the Great Depression, with the university at a crossroads, the Rutgers Award was intended to recognize the unique and lasting contributions made by individuals to the university and to the public.