The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Jun 01, 2010

KAC Winner Update: Bringing Back the Art of Printmaking

Posted by Anne Tschida

Artist, teacher, and printmaker Kathleen Hudspeth was awarded a Knight grant last year to develop Turn-Based Press, a communal print shop where artists will be able to learn (or refresh their memories) about the age-old culture of printmaking, and will get access to equipment and expertise in the field. Long a dream of Hudspeth, she proposed bringing in an etching press, letter press, and screen-printing equipment, and masters in the field.

To that end, she has acquired presses and is in the last phase of finalizing on a space for Turn-Based Press (it will likely be in Wynwood), and hopes to open by the fall.

So why would a printmaking center be important to Miami? Hudspeth weighed in on her obviously biased opinion of what it can, and should, be.

First, she stresses, the printshop will be a communal space for shared interaction:

"Printmakers, by nature, are people who love to share techniques, tips, and tricks of the trade, and some of the most valuable knowledge in the field is gleaned casually, in conversation with other printmakers.

"So artists who come in to learn or to work on a specific project will have the freedom of time for exploration without academic constraints … and they'll have around them a community of experienced individuals.

The Culture

"The culture of a printshop is perhaps the most important component of the place after the equipment. It often is a home away from home -- a place of work and friendship, a place to build and share knowledge."

But that interaction, emphasizes Hudspeth, must extend outward to a broader world as well.

"One of the things I've been most adamant about during the various phases of my art career is art's connection to the general community. There are plenty of creative people out there who chose not to pursue an art career, or who were warned against it, or who never had much exposure to the idea that art could be a career rather than a hobby, and those people are very important to the art scene overall.

"I want to bring those folks into the printshop, where they'll get to use a part of themselves perhaps dormant for a long time, and where they'll also be exposed to local artists and their work, possibly becoming the seed for a greater involvement in the local art scene."

The Legacy

Aside from forming a community, Hudspeth believes spreading the basic skill and knowledge of printmaking is in itself a necessary addition in our development.

"Printmaking techniques in Western art culture are at least as old as that of oil painting, yet it would be considered beyond naif to inquire of a painter 'what is oil painting?'

"Yet printmaking, which formed the basis of the transmission of knowledge over time and distance in the form of books, posters, broadsides/sheets, and newspapers, is so unconsidered as to be largely unknown. The number one question I'm asked is "what is printmaking?' Certainly, given the scope of the term, it's understandable.

"Consider that these days a 'print' could be an inkjet, a photograph, a screenprint, a sculpture (with the new 3D printers), a circuit board, an etching, a rubber stamp, a lithograph, and so on.

"Printmaking is so encompassing as to be limitless … more so than any of the more traditionally recognized areas of art production.

"The best legacy I can imagine is that printmaking so takes root in Miami that Miami becomes recognized as a printmaking town. I think that possibility is simmering here already."

The challenge seems worth it.

Check out Hudspeth and her work at:

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