PVD to Host International Printmakers Conference in April

Honoree Amos Paul Kennedy Jr. exhibits at local libraries during visit


The Creative Capital lives up to its name this month as the Southern Graphics Council International (SGCI) – an educational nonprofit organization connecting artists of original prints, drawings, books, and handmade paper – hosts their annual conference at the Rhode Island Convention Center, bringing together over 1,000 artists. Held April 3-6, the portfolios of SGCI artists will be displayed – including two Rhode Island natives: Dan Wood, founder of DWRI Letterpress, and print artist Allison Bianco – along with demonstrations, panels, and tours.

The crown jewel of the conference will be a talk by SCGI Printmakers Lifetime Achievement Award winner Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr., an artist known for social and political commentary, particularly in his printed posters, and a citywide exhibition of his art throughout April at various locations, including Providence Public Library (PPL), the branches of the Community Libraries of Providence, the Dirt Palace, and street-facing windows in Olneyville Square. “I consider myself more of a letterpress printer, which is more commercial,” says Kennedy, whose work aligns with the overarching theme of the conference, Verified by Proof. The line is taken from Beatrice Warde’s 1932 poem, “This is a Printing Office,” that remarks on the resilience of messages in print and the social and sacred duty of printmakers.

For his poster work, Kennedy employs a process called layering, printing colorful words over other words to use as a background, until finishing the piece with big, bold, black aphorisms on top. He calls his style of work “bad printing,” but he’s not being self-effacing – there are many practitioners of this particular technique, which one can find using #schoolofbadprinting on social media pages. “The way I came to layering,” Kennedy explains, “was I had a job, and at that time I had no money, and I was going to just put a big word in the background and put the text on top of it – which is what normally happens – but I misspelled the big word.” Out of paper, he simply did the next logical step: “I just printed over it until you couldn’t see the mistake, and then I put the big text on black.”

To complement the conference, Detroit-based Kennedy will collaborate with the local libraries on posters with political statements about the state of affairs of the United States’ public libraries. Posters will be placed in the stacks, across multiple floors and rooms, and even in the windows or outside of the buildings. “The installation of the many parts is what becomes the art. Whoever installs [my posters] actually makes the art. I just supply the pieces,” he says. “The library is the last public common we have. At the public library, you don’t need a card, you don’t need to pay a fee to get into it. You walk in, and you have complete access to anything that any other citizen has access to. […] There are forces in this civilization that are attempting to destroy the public library because of what it is: this communal resource available to everybody.” Learn more at ProvLib.org,
SGCInternational.org, and @kennedyprints



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