Panel Presenters

12:00–12:45 p.m. Presentation Session 1

Silver Lining: Finding a Creative Letterpress Teaching Strategy during the Lockdown

Two instructors will share their conceptual approaches and two former students during the pandemic (now alums) will respond to their presentations, as well as to questions posed by the instructors. This unique combination of participants will give a glimpse of letterpress during the lockdown from “both sides of the press.”

We all had to rise to the creative challenge that the Corona virus placed in our carefully planned paths. If we looked at it as an opportunity to re-envision ourselves and our work together, we discovered media, concepts, and ourselves in ways we would not have done otherwise.

COVID-19 might have offered us, as makers, the most profound opportunity for expression we have encountered in our lifetime. And certainly, we have an obligation to make art in times of crisis. Artists and designers before us have endured war, disease, catastrophic weather, political upheaval, and their art endures. It was definitely our time to contribute to the great and uncertain future that we share.

There were significant comparisons and contrasts to make regarding the practice of letterpress and the global pandemic that engulfed us.

A studio class like Letterpress Bookworks emphasizes a “hands-on” approach. Stemming the corona virus required a “hands-off” approach: no hand-hakes, no hugs, stay 6 feet away from other people. Letterpress most often focuses upon making an edition: multiples. The strategy to lessen the corona virus was to limit its multiplication.

Up to midterm of March 2020 we became familiar with this relief process of printing. The life that was familiar to us before the corona virus, would be a relief to have back again.

Students investigated the relationship between these aspects and more, creating a “print” or “book” without using the standard equipment of our course’s studio practice (press, ink, metal type, etc.) After all, “normal” was out; a “new normal” was in.

This presentation will share their results.


Cathie Ruggie Saunders is a book artist, letterpress printer and printmaker of national and international renown. Her work has been exhibited across the North American continent and as distant as New Delhi, India. Collections in the Library of Congress, the Art Institute of Chicago, and Vanderbilt University hold her work. Together with Martha Chiplis, they authored and designed the award-winning For the Love of Letterpress, published by Bloomsbury of London. Two editions have been issued, and it is in current use as a textbook in many higher education letterpress programs. Cathie is a Professor, Adjunct at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Over more than the past three decades, she has structured a letterpress curriculum and created a Letterpress studio that has provided both a traditional and contemporary education to hundreds of students.


Dave Cwiok is a motion based designer. Alongside his practice he is a mural assistant, photo editor, and letterpress printer. At the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Dave combined design, letterpress, and animation to explore where these histoires intertwine and inform him where he stands as a designer today. Dave received the Caxton Club grant for his animated letterpress book, "I am Here" in 2022 and will present it in April for the Partners in Print's Print Futures series.


Martha Chiplis has an MFA from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is an award-winning letterpress printer, designer, and artist, and coauthor of "For the Love of Letterpress: a Printing Handbook for Instructors and Students", published by Bloomsbury.


Mint Liu is a book designer at the University of Chicago Press. They are a book artist, printmaker, and a letterpress instructor in their free time. In their undergraduate program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), Liu fell in love with letterpress, which heavily influenced their design and art practices. Their bookwork allows them to process and transform complex emotions and vivid dreams. Liu has received support from the Caxton Club, presented for the Print Futures series, and instructed as a letterpress teaching assistant at the SAIC Type Shop.

1:00–1:45 p.m. Presentation Session 2

What if we...? Shared Dreaming as Public Good

The “Artists Books Conversations” (ABC) are an ongoing series of public Zoom chats about how members of the book arts/artists publishing/print community (interpreted as broadly as possible) can support each other through mutual aid, resource sharing, and tool or infrastructure building. The series has been running semi-monthly since December of 2021. ABC was directly inspired by the Letterpress Educators meetings that Erin Beckloff started during the Covid lockdown. This panel will examine specific ways that the ABC meets and other digital conversation/meeting/laboring spaces might provide a model or framework for rethinking some of our basic assumptions about arts education. The panelists are: Leah Mackin, Levi Sherman, and Aaron Cohick.


Leah Mackin is a visual artist and educator who explores themes of reflection, response, and re-creation through performative publishing projects. Mackin holds an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a BFA in Printmaking + Book Arts from The University of the Arts.


Levi Sherman is an interdisciplinary artist and PhD student in Art History at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. He received his MFA in Interdisciplinary Book and Paper Arts at Columbia College Chicago in 2015, where he was a Print Production Fellow for the Journal of Artists’ Books and taught undergraduate bookbinding and letterpress. His BFA in Visual Communications was earned at the University of Arizona in 2012. Levi is the co-founder of Partial Press and founding editor of Artists’ Book Reviews.


Aaron Cohick is a letterpress printer/artist/publisher based in Colorado Springs, CO. His work focuses on the intersection of text, image, community, and collaboration. He is the founder and proprietor of the NewLights Press, and is also the Printer of The Press at Colorado College. Aaron's work, under both imprints, is held in public and private collections all over the world, including the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library, the Thomas J. Watson Library at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the British Library, the National Library of Australia, Yale University, SFMOMA Library, the Letterform Archive, the Newberry Library, and the Tate Britain Library. He has taught workshops at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, the Bemis School of Art, the San Francisco Center for the Book, Naropa University, and Penland School of Crafts.

2:00–2:45 p.m. Presentation Session 3

Students as Curators

During the pandemic, all of my classes were taught via Zoom and from my study. This was challenging—especially paper making—but it also was a creative spur to new assignments. Prior to the pandemic, the final exam for my course was to have all of the 20+ students create a limited edition artist book and provide one to each of their classmates and to me, thus each student had the beginnings of their own collection! Once there was no longer in person learning, I had to devise another final exam. I asked students to propose an exhibition about book arts and/or paper as art. Students wrote exhibition proposals and submitted five or more examples of artist books and/or paper as art that would be included in the exhibition in a zoom presentation. This proved to be an exciting way to expand classmates’ understanding of the book arts as each student delved into a particular aspect which may or may not have been covered during the course. We all learned about contemporary Chinese women book artists, and artist books by Latino artists, for example, as well as highly personal theme collections like “Known and Unknown Memories in Artist Books.” This exam format has proven so stimulating, informative and creative, that it is now the final exam back in the classroom.


Artist Book Maker, Curator Emerita at the Long Beach Museum of Art, and faculty instructor for Artist Books and Paper Making at California State University Long Beach. Recipient of numerous fellowships, grants, and residencies including the City of Los Angeles, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and the Visual Studies Workshop. Artist books in many public collections including the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Kohler Art Museum, and many others, and featured in "Artists and their Books/Books and their Artists" published by the Getty Research Institute. Currently included in Pushing the Envelope: Southern California Women Bookmakers.

The Poetics of Book Arts and Liberatory Pedagogy in Student Workshops

Conceptual books and handmade foldables are ways of reimagining frames and containers of language, of text and image. By integrating shape and book forms in a poetry workshop, I shift the conventional pedagogical narratives of poems on the page. This interdisciplinary process is informed by concrete poets, book artists, and experimental texts from the global south.

I have inverted the process to book arts pedagogy as a text workshop drawing on Bochner’s assertion that language is material. This expands the students’ processes to include multilingual, multimodal elements as we work across platforms, languages, and methods. The restorative work extends our understanding of identity as malleable and mutable, centering the human experience of creating the self via innovative process-based design.

This talk includes technologies as materials, platform rhetorics, and the complicit risks of vulnerability. Collaboratively rooted in bell hooks’ Teaching Community, the systems of place-based learning transform the book as a site of generative, radical transgression that actively positions the art of the book as revolutionary praxis.


Nikki Fragala Barnes (@bynikkibarnes) is a critical curator and scholar of texts and technology. Barnes’ work – transdisciplinary, collaborative, participatory – centers restorative research and critical making. An installation artist and experimental poet making conceptual books, Barnes is an instructor at the University of Central Florida where they integrate book arts with poetry workshop. Their creative practice and research are site-sensitive, emphasizing labor and consent, critically reframing power and hierarchies. Working with zines as research method, Barnes participated in the inaugural DIY Methods zine conference. Their hybrid scholarship bridges language, material, critical inquiry, and inclusive editing / publishing. Barnes serves with the editorial collective for the Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy and several boards. Work appears in the Journal of Multimodal Rhetorics, the Journal of Motherhood Studies, Surface Design Journal, and is exhibited at the 2023 HASTAC conference on Critical Making and Social Justice at Pratt Institute.

Precious Materials

As courses moved online in March of 2020, many print, paper, and book educators were left teaching students who were no longer in specialized studios. Stuck at home, educators scrambled for substitutions while clinging to curriculum. Initially everything shut down and purchasing certain supplies online was not an option. We had to get creative. What household or kitchen items could be co-opted for art’s sake? Turmeric, beets, and tea became pigments, and eyeshadow and cocoa powder were used for pochoir. Cheap printer paper became the pages of books, and linen thread was replaced with embroidery floss. While businesses soon reopened and we went back to buying anything we needed online, a Pandora’s Box of materials had been opened, and accessibility to historic or specialized supplies was suddenly an issue that went beyond budget. What if we let go of preciousness and embraced utility? What can we buy at the grocery or drug store that can be used to recreate and teach traditional processes while not breaking the bank? This question went beyond the lockdown. What tangible solutions did we find that can be carried over into book arts education moving forward? This talk will address material solutions from educators in book, print, and paper, as well as my own material findings, and will ask the members of our community to revisit the preciousness of certain essential materials and ask themselves what can be substituted where without sacrificing the technical knowledge we pass on to our students.


Amanda D'Amico is a book artist working under the imprint Tiny Revolutionary Press in Philadelphia, PA. She teaches in the MFA Book Arts/Printmaking Program at the University of the Arts, where she was Master Printer in the Borowsky Center for Publication Arts for 12 years, and at Tyler School of Art at Temple University. She has served on the boards of the College Book Art Association and the Soapbox Community Print Shop, and currently serves on the board of the Philadelphia Center for the Book. She has taught workshops at the Free Library of Philadelphia, Pyramid Atlantic Art Center, Minnesota Center for Book Arts, Pickwick Independent Press, and Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. D'Amico grew up in Minneapolis, MN, and received her BA from Sarah Lawrence College and her MFA in Book Arts/Printmaking from the University of the Arts. Her work has been collected and exhibited nationally.

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