Altered States: Etching in Late 19th-Century Paris

Marking the Museum’s entrance into online publishing, Altered States: Etching in Late 19th-Century Paris combines a scholarly collection of essays with a video glossary of printmaking techniques. The online publication compliments the exhibition by the same name that was on view at the RISD Museum June 30 –December 3, 2017.
In late 19th-century Paris, the printmaking process of etching underwent a revolutionary transformation. At a time when prints were usually made as copies of paintings rather than as original works of art, a revival of interest in etching led to greater knowledge of technique, allowing artists to experiment with subject matter and process more than ever before. The publication focuses on the creativity and experimentation that proliferated in these years, during and after etching’s revival, and the centrality in this important shift.

Seeking inspiration from the marginalia of manuscripts within the Museum’s collection, the publication was design and develop be accessible to everyone who visits the exhibition, while also providing opportunities for closer reading and looking through extensive annotations, supplemental imagery, and explanatory videos. The publication features dynamic footnotes, a progress bar to situate the reader in an essay, and a navigational table of contents. The publication is offered for free and serves as the first iteration in a growing series of online publications.
Twenty short videos made in collaboration with a Providence-based fine printmaking publisher bring to life the processes these artists found so engaging, as well as the historical context in which their works were made.

As part of the research for this publication, the RISD Museum worked with a local artist to reprint a plate in the museum’s collection, The Port of Fowey, by Théodore Roussel. These videos were featured in both the publication and the exhibition.

This project is the first iteration of a digital publication platform. The RISD Museum is a distinctive academic environment in which meaning is created primarily through making, be that physical, conceptual, digital, or computational. The curriculum and practices at our school have always been about invention and innovation, and it is the natural inclination here to make things that do not exist yet. We’re committed to presenting our digital publications as an open platform, in a form that others can easily use and work from. Using what we’ve learned from developing Altered States, we’re currently planning two new digital publications that will continue to take new risks and continue pushing the boundaries of conventional academic scholarship.





Britany Salsbury (general editor)
Sarah Ganz Blythe (program and design management)
Amy Pickworth (editor)
Jeremy Radtke (video and publication creative direction)
Rocio Delaloye (video production)
Kourtnie Aileru (Sound assitant)
Overpass Projects (printmaker)
Megan Foster (printmaker)
Evelyn Hampton (proofreader)
Andrew LeClair (design direction)
Minkyoung Kim (design)
June Shin (title type design)
Standard Library (web development)
Fleur Roos Rosa de Carvalho (contributor)
Ashley E. Dunn (contributor)
Gretchen Schultz (contributor)
Brian Shure (contributor)



Altered States: Etching in Late 19th-Century Paris was made possible by a grant from The IFPDA Foundation.