Finding: Source Material in the Archives of American Art

Esta Nesbitt

Esta Nesbitt expanded the boundaries of printmaking through her performances, videos, and innovative prints. She was one of the first artists to create works utilizing Xerox photocopying machines; in the early 1970s, Nesbitt began to seriously experiment with Xeroxes in the company’s showroom in New York City. She manipulated the machines, materials, and techniques to invent three xerography techniques, which she named transcapsa, photo-transcapsa, and chromacapsa.

Chromacapsa, exemplified here, involved the application of color filters to the copying process, in which Nesbitt would make various printed iterations of an original collage. She often referred to the technique in her papers as “Xerox Xplore.” These studies would inform her xerographic artworks and films.