• Architectural Image-Making in 1980s New York: The John Nichols Printmakers & Publishers Collection
    Clara Syme and Owen Nichols
    a83, New York
    Jan to Dec 2023

Thom Mayne/Morphosis, “Axonometric Assembly (Proof),” 1989. Serigraph and silver leaf on paper, 40 x 30 in. Printed by John Nichols Printmakers & Publishers. Courtesy a83. Photo: a83

The John Nichols Printmakers & Publishers (JNP&P) Collection and associated exhibition series documents the work produced by and exhibited at John Nichols Printmakers & Publishers at 83 Grand Street in SoHo New York between 1978–1994. The collection features editions printed for and artifacts by Takefumi Aida, Roberto Burle Marx, Liz Diller, Peter Eisenman, Michael Graves, Frank Gehry, Steven Holl, Thom Mayne, Charles Moore, Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, and others. The contents of the JNP&P Collection provides rare documentation of the development of architectural practices as they oscillate between paper-projects and built work. The collection of artifacts is notable as it is from an era on the verge of digital image production in which printmaking, specifically serigraph printing, played an integral role in presenting architecture to a broader audience. Through a series of exhibitions held at a83, the contents of the JNP&P Collection are presented to the public, providing both historic insight on specific architects along with precedents for representation practices that may inform the development of contemporary practitioners.

John Nichols is a master printmaker. He operated John Nichols Printmakers & Publishers (JNP&P) a printmaking studio and gallery located in SoHo New York from 1978–94, and taught theories of visual representation through applied printmaking at Princeton University School of Architecture from 1989–96. Before printmaking, Nichols received architectural training from MLTW/Moore-Turnbull and SOM. Prior to his involvement with architectural representation, Nichols worked with artists including Laurie Anderson, Joseph Beuys, Gordon Hart, Jessie Nebraska Gifford, Charles Ross, and Andy Warhol. Recognizing the value in fine art printmaking, Nichols brought his expertise to the architectural discipline working with designers such as Peter Eisenman, Michael Graves, Steven Holl, Thom Mayne, Robert Venturi, and Denise Scott-Brown, and others. The editions produced by Nichols can now be found in a variety of museums and collections although there is no comprehensive documentation available of the body of work associated with JNP&P. Nichols is a member of a83, a nonprofit organization formed in the spirit of JNP&P and home to artifacts produced by his eponymous studio.

Owen Nichols is an architectural designer based in New York City. Nichols holds a bachelor’s of fine arts with concentrations in drawing and printmaking, and received his MArch from Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) in 2013. Nichols founded the architectural design studio Chibbernoonie in 2015. The studio prioritizes communication through images specializing in hybrid drawings, analog printmaking techniques, and modelling, including 1:1 prototypes. Chibbernoonie has developed a portfolio of built work while maintaining their commitment to a speculative image-based practice. Nichols codirects the nonprofit project space a83 and holds a position at Parsons The New School for Design where he teaches design studio and visual representation courses. Nichols is the Director of Printmaking Operations at a83 where he leads the consultation and execution of various print editions produced in collaboration with architects including Michael Young, RUR, Jesse LeCavalier, Sean Canty, Common Accounts, and others.

Clara Syme is an architectural designer based in New York City where she codirects the nonprofit project space a83 and works as a lead designer at Chibbernoonie. Syme has held teaching positions at University of Waterloo School of Architecture and Parsons The New School for Design. Syme received her MArch degree from Princeton University where she completed a design thesis on institutional architecture, focusing on evaluating aesthetics of organization(s). Her position as director of archival material at a83 allows Syme to continue to develop her academic research on designing infrastructure for organizing visual artifacts and aligns naturally with her commitment to the rigorous study of the history of architectural image-making.

a83 is a nonprofit organization with a three-part mission to exhibit, publish, and promote experimental projects in architecture, art, and design. The organization is a reinstantiation of and elaboration on the previous operation John Nichols Printmakers & Publishers (JNP&P) which existed as an experimental printmaking studio and public-facing gallery at 83 Grand Street—in the SoHo neighborhood in New York City—from 1978–94. a83 continues to operate at the original location as a printmaking studio, project-space, exhibition venue, and continually growing archive. The SoHo location is used to produce exhibitions and installations, host workshops, and broadcast work to new audiences.