Michele A. Parchment. | Courtesy Brandywine Workshop and Archives

Groundbreaking print workshop and arts organization founded by Allan L. Edmunds celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2022

IN PHILADELPHIA, the Brandywine Workshop and Archives (BWA) is welcoming a new executive director. The BWA Board of Directors announced the appointment of Michele A. Parchment, effective Aug. 21. Parchment is only the second person lead Brandywine, the storied print workshop where artists have been collaborating and experimenting with master printers for half a century. She is succeeding artist and educator Allan L. Edmunds (pictured, below left), the nonprofit’s founder and sole executive director.

Parchment brings three decades of experience working with museums and arts organizations in a variety of capacities, including education, public programming, and exhibition and collection management. She has been serving as a consultant to Diaspora Vibe Cultural Arts Incubator in Miami, Fla.

Previously, she was director of public engagement at the Sarasota Art Museum at Ringling College of Arts and Design (2018-22) in Sarasota, Fla., and held several roles at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture in Charlotte, N.C. (2006-14). Earlier in her career, she worked at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture in Baltimore; The Newark Museum in New Jersey; Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Mich., and the Studio Museum in Harlem.

“Early on I had a dream to build a sustainable institution that could provide support for advancing artists of color, and document and demonstrate the quality of their creative achievements in the widest world possible,” Edmunds told Culture Type via email. “Time and technology has enabled the dream to be realized and now is the time for new, visionary thinking and I welcome Michele Parchment to lead the way.”

“Early on I had a dream to build a sustainable institution that could provide support for advancing artists of color, and document and demonstrate the quality of their creative achievements in the widest world possible. Time and technology has enabled the dream to be realized and now is the time for new, visionary thinking and I welcome Michele Parchment to lead the way.” — Allan Edmunds

EDMUNDS ESTABLISHED BWA in 1972 in a working-class Black and Latino neighborhood in North Philadelphia. The printmaking workshop was designed to train local high school students and young artists and soon expanded its scope to serve dedicated artists of all ages and racial and cultural backgrounds.

In the ensuing years, a spectrum of related resources and activities was added, including artist’s residencies, exhibitions, education programming, mural projects, and archive projects. Sam Gilliam was the first artist in residence in 1975. The following year, Brandywine received its first-ever grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, providing the necessary funds for a residency project with Romare Bearden. BWA subsequently recognized Bearden with its inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award the same year (1976).

Over the past five decades, Brandywine has hosted and collaborated with countless other artists, from John Biggers, Benny Andrews, Barkley L. Hendricks, E.J. Montgomery, Belkis Ayón, Melvin Edwards, Faith Ringgold, Barbara Chase-Riboud, Howardena Pindell, William T. Williams, Betye Saar, and Alison Saar to Odili Donald Odita, Janet Taylor Pickett, Robert Pruitt, Hank Willis Thomas, Larry Walker, Stanley Whitney, Sedrick Huckaby, Willie Cole, and El Anatsui.

Collections of Brandywine prints have been acquired by more than 20 museums, universities, and libraries, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art; Rhode Island School of Design Museum; Schomburg Center for Research in African American History and Culture in Harlem; Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.; Scripps College in Claremont, Calif.; Arizona State University Museum; Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA)/IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe, N.M.; Hampton University Museum in Hampton, Va.; Bennett College in Greensboro, N.C.; University of Texas at Austin; and Wifredo Lam Contemporary Art Center in Havana, Cuba.

Brandywine prints have been exhibited internationally via the U.S. Department of State’s Art in Embassies program in Africa, South America, and the Middle East and through international exchanges with artists and organizations in Wales, UK, for example.

A vital part of Philadelphia arts community, since 1993 Brandywine has been located in a renovated firehouse on Broad Street, a downtown Philadelphia corridor designated as the Avenue of the Arts cultural district. “Full Spectrum: Prints from the Brandywine Workshop” was on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2012, marking BWA’s 40th anniversary.


Operating Outside the lines explores the history of Brandywine Workshop and Archives and explores the Philadelphia nonprofit’s mission and vision (2017). | Video by Brandywine Workshop and Archives


BRANDYWINE HAS BEEN PLANNING its leadership transition for several years and at the same time taking on ambitious legacy projects. Artura.org, a free public database was launched in 2020. An educational resource, Artura documents more than 1,100 artworks and artists from Brandywine’s archive with contributions from other BIPOC arts organizations. In 2021, Brandywine raised funds through a benefit auction at Swann Auction Galleries in New York.

In 2022, Brandywine celebrated its 50th anniversary and continued to further its programming and shore up its future, launching its Legacy Endowment Campaign and a series of programs and events. The goal of the campaign is to raise $5 million by June 2025.

Harvard Art Museum presented a special exhibition,“Prints from the Brandywine Workshop and Archives: Creative Communities” (March 4-July 31, 2022) featuring works acquired by the museum in 2018. Then in October, Brandywine’s awards gala celebrated the longstanding leadership of Edmunds and honored curator Valerie Cassel Oliver, professor and art historian Bernard Young, and artist Julie Mehretu.

Brandywine recently received a five-year $2.5 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support operations and programming. (In 2021, a two-year, $500,000 grant from Mellon provided support to scale up Artura and establish a deputy director of programming position.)

In October, BWA is inaugurating El Anatsui Fellowships providing residencies for Africa-based artists. To support the initiative, Anatsui donated “Wade in the Water” (2017-22) one of his alluring, sculptural tapestries composed of thousands of found bottle caps. In March 2022, the work sold for more than $1.5 million (1,154,250 British Pounds) at a Sotheby’s auction in London, with the net proceeds benefitting a pair of annual fellowships and Brandywine’s endowment campaign.

Edmunds, who retired in 2022, served as board advisor during the national search process that identified Parchment as Brandywine’s next leader. She “starts her tenure at a time when BWA is at its strongest position financially and programmatically,” Brandywine said in the appointment announcement.

“We are proud of Brandywine’s past accomplishments under Allan’s strong direction and now we are very excited that BWA’s future will be shaped by Michele’s dynamic leadership,” said BWA Board Chair Jean Woodley. “Brandywine shines bright!” CT


IMAGE: Above left, Allan L. Edmunds. | Photo courtesy Brandywine Workshop and Archives


FIND MORE about the history and evolving programming and printmaking capabilities of Brandywine Workshop and Archives


Artist El Anatsui introduces the El Anatsui Fellowships offering residencies to Africa-based artists at Brandywine and explains how the artists will benefit from the experience. | Video by Brandywine Workshop and Archives


“Three Decades of American Printmaking: The Brandywine Workshop Collection” explores the history of the workshop through its artists, prints, and exhibitions. “Full Spectrum: Prints from the Brandywine Workshop” documents a gift of 100 prints the workshop donated to the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2009. The digital catalog “Printing as Prologue: Recent Work by Allan Edmunds” accompanied a solo exhibition of Allan Edmunds at the Woodmere Art Museum in 2022.


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