The Old Print Shop

Artist Spotlight: Grace Bentley-Scheck

March 19, 2020
Alpha MediaPastis. Collagraph, 2005.


Grace Bentley-Scheck was born in Troy, New York, and currently lives in Rhode Island where she runs her studio, Sassafras Press.  She is a contemporary printmaker who uses a technique called collagraph. The basic end result of the technique is a relief block with different surface levels and textures.

Alpha Media

The collagraph is a printing method that came about in the 1950s. It became popular among artists who had difficulties getting supplies like copper plates following World War II. The process of creating a collagraph plate is very different than most other printing techniques because the plate is created through collage. Just about any material can be used to build up a plate, but delicate papers like cardboard are often saturated in a substance, such as glue, to make the fiber rigid and prevent collapse during printing. The result is a relief block with different surface levels and textures. Depending on how hard the artist pressed the plate during printing, these textures can not only be felt by hand, but they can be seen. For instance, sandpaper leaves a very different pattern from mat board, burlap, or hardened layers of paint.

Grace Bentley-Scheck has a passion for architecture. Many of her works focus on specific elements, almost as if they were a snippet of the structure's life. Other works encompass a building at large to reveal its marvels in a different fashion. New York City's dynamic architectural history has been a major influence. Her body of work seems to convey the tale of the city from its timeless historical structures to new age goliaths rising out of the concrete.

“When viewers ask how I make my prints, a friend tells them, ‘It’s magic.’  Indeed, there is a magical quality to the process by which a drawing is transformed by the printmaking process into a new entity and the same image emerges from a plate each time it is inked.  Printmaking imposes limitations which govern the choice of subject and encourages using the language of the medium to seek the essence of the subject. The daughter of a civil engineer, my fascination with the geometry of the urban space is my initial impetus in choosing subjects.  


The philosopher, Gaston Bachelard said that buildings reverberate through time.  Architecture, created by humans, is caught in the human cycle of birth, decay, and regeneration.  Some buildings, like the Old State House in Boston, become stages for momentous events.  Later generations seek to experience these sites of cultural seachanges.  Other buildings shelter ordinary family or business activities and slowly adapt to social change and the natural aging process.  In urban centers, such buildings often grow out of the debris of earlier cultures or stand next to buildings preserved from an earlier time.  When the bulldozer breaks the ground of a city lot, it opens it to the future while excavating the past.

For many years, my work has dealt with architecture as space humans enclose which becomes dynamic via its passage through time.  A sense of time is clearly understood at historic sites and is also seen in the process of renovation. Most of all, passage of time is recorded in the marks left by functional changes made in structures over many years by human design or the elements and in changing patterns of light and shadow as the sun makes its daily journey across the sky.  The processes of building a collagraph plate layer by layer and the marks that result in the printing process have been evocative in expressing these subjects.”



Grace Bentley-Scheck received her BFA and MFA from Alfred University, NY. She is a member of The Boston Printmakers, Society of American Graphic Artists (SAGA), Los Angeles Printmaking Society, 19 on Paper, Art League of Rhode Island, and Printmakers Network of Southern New England.  Her work is in the collections of Knoxville Museum of Art, TN; Portland Art Museum, OR; Newport Art Museum, RI; Trenton State College, NJ; Tyler Gallery, State University of NY at Oswego; Bristol Community College, MA;  Rockford College, IL; University of North Dakota at Grand Forks, among others. 

To see more of Grace Bentley-Scheck's work, please visit her artist page here.