To-do: Installing the Lists Exhibition

By Mary Savig
February 3, 2010
Installation shot of Lists exhibition

Go behind-the-scenes with assistant curator Mary Savig to see the installation process for Lists: To-dos, Illustrated Inventories, Collected Thoughts, and Other Artists’ Enumerations, opening February 5.

The Lawrence A. Fleischman Gallery here in Washington, D.C. has been closed the past few weeks for the installation of the Archives’ next exhibition, Lists: To-dos, Illustrated Inventories, Collected Thoughts and Other Artists’ Enumerations from the Archives of American Art.

A team of silk screeners recently enlivened the gallery’s stark walls with a bright, colorful title wall and introductory text for the show. Here is my step-by-step documentation of the process-in list form, of course!

1. The silk screeners tape transparencies of the text to the walls, ensuring that the text is properly centered and aligned.

Silk screeners taping transparencies Photo by Mary Savig, 2010

2. Next they align the frames over the wall transparency and attach small ledges to the wall to hold the frame in exactly the right spot. The frame itself features a mesh screen and transparency, but this transparency has negative space where the paint will pass through the screen and onto the wall.

Silk screeners aligning frames Photo by Mary Savig, 2010

3. The wall transfers are removed and frame is fitted onto the ledges.

wall transfers being removed Photo by Mary Savig, 2010

4. With one swipe, the silk screener spreads paint across the screen. The frame is carefully removed, revealing an even coat of paint!

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5. Touch-ups are done with small brushes.

Painter doing touch-ups on final design Photo by Mary Savig, 2010

I think the final design is quite eye catching!

Now I just can’t wait to complete my own to-do list when my colleagues and I open the exhibition to the public this Friday, February 5.

Mary Savig is a curatorial assistant at the Archives of American Art.

“Lists” will be on view in the Fleischman Gallery from February 5 to September 19, 2010. Admission is free. For details, see the Lists Exhibition page.


I had never before seen screen printing for this type of application. It's very cool I think I might try it out in my own home!

Nice Job! My grandfather used to own a screen printing business in Lakeland, Florida years ago! Its nice to see this is not a lost art in the age of the digital revolution!

Time is running out as the exhibition ends in September 2010. I recently visited this showcase in new York organized by the Archives of American Art and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in art.
I was fascinated by a single scrap of paper on display by none other than Pablo Picasso. No not a sketch but a recommendation by the artist for artists to be included in the 1913 Armory Show which was a notable exhibition of modern art at the time.Marcel Duchamps name is misspelled. Go take a look for yourself to see how the great Picasso spelled it. You have only until September 2010

This is really cool. I don't know much people who still do silk screens today. Could be a dying tradition? It's nice to see that it is still in use today amidst all the technology in digital printing.

Beautiful work, I am and always will be a 'to-do lists' person. Now I finally know what has to go on the wall in my office that I've been putting off, my List. Thank you!

Great work! This article reminded me when I was still using screen printing. But for now I prefer to use digital printing than screen printing because it is more easily and efficiently.

Looks awesome, but intense. I'm curious how many people were required for this project and long did it take to complete?

This is really a cool work.As a graphic designer,to be honest i've never seen this type of printing but the fonts they used are great
Thanks for sharing Mary:)

This is a perfect example of how divers a screen printing application can be. Using an extended frame and indexing off of block taped to the wall was genius. Too often people think printing can only take place on a t-shirt. Good job guys.

My mom used to have a very similar screen print block that she used in our home to do creative projects. She also used it in her classroom as a teacher

Awesome! I've seen screen printing on shirts and other stuffs but not on wall. Usually walls are done by brushes or spraying or by marking tape. Thanks for sharing.

Like most of the comments you are getting here, I too am somewhat surprised (even though this was even written some months ago already) to learn that it is already possible to do a really neat screen printing job on a wall. All I know was to do t-shirt designs with my very own yudu screen printer as a personal hobby. Now, I'm off to share this idea over to my friends. Thanks for sharing this.

nice wall !! :) very inspiring work

Nice wall!!! :) Great work

This wall impressed me so much when I visited the exhibit over the summer! I was curious how it got so perfect. And now I have the answer thanks to this blog post. I'm so glad that you took pictures and wrote about this.

Inspiring me, i'll do like that.

thanks for this issue

An outstanding look was achieved here. There are some new paper technologies available recently which could also provide very interesting options in the future.

Out standing idea. Thanks for sharing this.
Not sure I will be silk screen on a wall but it opens up other ideas.

We do screen printing at work but it never crossed my mind to screen print directly onto a wall. We've used vinyl before but there is nothing like seeing the texture of the paint on the wall. Its akin to letter press on real paper stocks.

Everything looks great and creative. Even "to do-list" looks innovative. People do know how to use their imagination.

I've seen the Lists Exhibition. It was incredible. Waiting for the next events!

Wow! Great picture. It looks great and creative.Thanks for sharing this.

I never really seen screen printing on a wall. Really creative! Thanks for taking the time to upload the images and the video of the process.

No doubt the work is eye catching.What kind of paint did you use for this project?

I missed the exhibition but this is pretty amazing to see how you created the show. Well done.

Did they happen to do a test run digitally and see how everything would go together? Would it be possible to replicate it using airbrushes?

Great article and tutorial about Installing the Lists Exhibition, your step by step instruction is very clear, I've never seen this one before, so easy but worthy skills. I have to try it on my wall.lols

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