15 Sep 2021 12:00 AM | Susan Viguers (Administrator)

The repetition of printing offers consistency—each pass affirms progress through the stack of blank printer’s sheets, and the racked prints exude productivity. In early March 2020, under orders to evacuate the print shop, Emily Tipps and I hurriedly printed the title page and portfolio for the Festschrift for Bill, which I took home to build and disseminate. The project kept my mind and hands committed to progress. Two months later, still isolated from the presses and the people who use them, I shipped the completed portfolio to participants, receiving messages of warm appreciation in return. Connecting with the book arts community in response to the passing of Bill Stuart of  Vamp and Tramp Booksellers was a powerful healing and celebratory opportunity before the pandemic hit, and the impact was exponentially greater once the global grief began to settle in. 

Feeling debilitated and disconnected, I responded to an open call on social media for Fluffle: a second Tiny Bunny Print Exchange, organized by Lisa Hasegawa and Yuka Petz. The invitation to indulge in furry cuteness also offered the ease of creating on a small scale (20 prints measuring 3”x 4.5”) in any media (not to be more than 40% digitally produced). I completed my edition with what I had at hand—a drawing from a stock image, “printed” pochoir with a carbon paper trace monoprint. The randomly selected prints received in return were a comforting reminder that real people were out there, alive and making. 

Prints from top left to bottom right by Aimee Rosner, Taylor Cox, Lisa Hasegawa, Ryan Lindburg, Mary Jane Parker, Kiernan Dunn, Kerri Cushman, Rochelle Gandour-Rood, Monica Wiesblott, Yuka Petz, Jessica Peterson, Gabby Cooksey, Jodi Genest, Sara White, Yuri Loudon, Kenny Harrison, Kat Brown, Bill Moody

In February 2020, Tony Guadagnolo invited me and 63 other SP20 owners to produce a 1920s jazz-themed print as a member of the 20 for 20 SP20 Print Collective. The Collective was formed as the pandemic took root, and the project was actuated “separately together” over the course of the year, with flexible deadlines in response to COVID-19 fallout. Tony kept in touch by emailing early jazz trivia questions and mailing collective T-shirts and printers’ manicules to participants. The following February, I joyfully received the smartly designed portfolio of 20 diverse prints. Simultaneously, I recognized that the critical value was in the collective productivity—being part of a larger whole whose individual members worked in parallel spaces in response to a common call with a shared timeline.  

Designed by Tony Guadagnolo

Work by Peter Bushell and Kerri Cushman

Dan Mayer, the College Book Art Association Southwest Regional Leader, organized a member exchange with the theme of Environment in March 2020. The theme was sufficiently open to consider global or more localized concerns that seemed amplified by the period of intense news-watching and ceiling-staring. I felt connected with other makers in my region, all thinking about place, and repurposed feelings of angst and hopelessness to fuel ideation and printing. 

Designed by Daniel Mayer

Print by Karen Zimmermann

Prints by Aaron Cohick and Amy Thompson

In November 2020, I received an invitation to participate in the Hope is an Action Print Exchange, organized by Jessica Snow, Kseniya Thomas, and Jenny Wilkson. The genius of the call was in encouraging participants to take action by hoping, something accessible to all, with individual and combined effort. I was struck by the inherent potential of collective problem-solving and the power of connection across geographic as well as political and/or cultural divides. During a period when the world seemed suspended in time, involvement in the project gave structure and meaning to my creative output. 

Stefanie Dykes sent a spontaneous call to print-action in early January 2021 for the Ethic of Love Portfolio, inspired by bell hooks’s essay “Love as the Practice of Freedom.” I was propelled by the two-month deadline, the powerful essay, and the knowledge that other printers were making and loving in unison with me. By April, all 25 artists had received a full set of prints, each in a 10” x 5” priority mailer with a window that gave the enclosed exhibition the opportunity to travel and spread the love. 

See participant list for artists' names

With the pandemic still raging, I’m grateful to be working on prints for Communities: West 5, organized by Sukha Worob and Andrew Rice, and Habitat, an effort by Mark Ritchie to “bring together” artists and writers to produce collaborative broadsides. The shared goals and deadlines help me prioritize the making—collectively, we are producing timely, innovative work that serves to connect us with one another and our audiences, despite our being distanced.

Marnie Powers-Torrey holds an MFA in Photography (University of Utah) and a BA in English/Philosophy (Boston College). Marnie teaches letterpress, bookmaking, artists’ books and other courses for the J. Willard Marriott Library’s Book Arts Program and elsewhere. She is master printer and production manager for the Red Butte Press.

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