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Henrietta Dean Lang

(1876 - 1940)
Little information is available regarding the life and career of Henrietta Dean Lang. It is documented that she lived and worked in Detroit and was a longtime member and officer of that city’s Society of Painters and Sculptors. She was an instructor at the College of the City of Detroit and was one of 28 Americans (from an applicant pool of 2,000) to represent her country at the 1936 International Print & Lithography Show in Chicago.

At some point in her career Lang learned white-line woodblock printmaking—a technique developed by the Swedish-born New Mexico artist B.J.O. Nordfeldt. White-line woodblock printmaking is a style associated primarily with the artist’s colony at Provincetown, Massachusetts (most specifically Blanche Lazzell—the form’s most celebrated practitioner), and it is not known how Lang became acquainted with it or when she might have visited New Mexico.

Instead of carving a separate block for each color, as in the traditional method employed by woodblock artists such as Gustave Baumann, white-line prints employ only one block. The artist draws a subject on the block then carves thin lines between the different areas of color. A sheet of heavy paper is attached to one edge of the block and the artist applies the palette of colors to the raised areas of the composition. The sheet is then carefully folded over the block and pressure is applied to transfer the ink to the paper.

The charming scene of a Buffalo Dance at Taos Pueblo is one of only two known New Mexico prints by Lang. Her white-line woodblocks may be the only historic examples of the technique employed for New Mexico subjects.