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Coy Avon Seward

(1884 - 1939)
C.A. Seward was an important and prolific printmaker who was noted for his innovative techniques and graphically bold and beautiful images of New Mexico and his native Kansas.

Seward showed artistic talent from an early age but it was his visit to the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis (an event in which two major works by E.I. Couse were on exhibit) that set him on the path to becoming an artist. His early studies consisted of a five-year correspondence course in commercial design followed by classes at Washburn University in Topeka and with Birger Sandzen at Bethany College in Lindsborg. Seward later credited the influential Sandzen as being the primary inspiration for his becoming a printmaker.

By 1907 Seward had opened a commercial art studio in Wichita and three years later founded an art school. He subsequently worked for a couple of large commercial printing companies, including the Western Lithograph Company which, through Seward’s contacts, produced prints for many Kansas and New Mexico artists.

As opposed to the traditional method of utilizing a heavy and cumbersome stone for his printing matrix, Seward favored zinc plates—a commercially used process that he championed for artists. He authored a book on metal plate lithography and believed in working out his compositions on paper before drawing the image on the plate, retaining as much of the original energy and graphic immediacy as possible.

In 1930 Seward became a charter member of the famed Prairie Print Makers group, along wih two other founding members, Norma Bassett Hall and Charles M. Capps. He created approximately 40 New Mexico prints between 1923 and 1930 of which only a handful were etchings, including ‘Sunshine and Adobe.'

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