Artistist Residency program continues at Northwest

Baker working with students

Baker working with students

A professional artform that made mass production possible for centuries is currently being taught to Northwest students by two professionals who have entered the Artist-in-Residency Program through the South Central Ohio Educational Service Center (ESC).

According to the South Central Ohio ESC, letterpress printing was the normal form of printing text from the mid-15th century until the mid-20th century, when offset printing was developed, however it has seen a revival as an artistic form in the past twenty to thirty years.

The ESC Artist-in-Residency Program brought together local writer/filmmaker, Amanda Page, with graphic designer/letterpress expert, Darren Baker, for a unique residency.

Amanda Page is a journalist, essayist, and documentary filmmaker from southern Ohio. Her work explores the various elements of place, how those elements create individual and collective identities, and how those identities contribute to an individual sense of belonging. She has written about community journalism, downtown architecture, and city slogans for outlets such as Belt Magazine and The Daily Yonder. Herfilm, Peerless City, which she co-directed with Pittsburgh filmmaker David Bernabo, premiered at the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts in March, 2022, and is scheduled to screen at the Ohio History Connection and the Keith-Albee Theater. In 2020, she founded Scioto Literary, a nonprofit that serves writers and storytellers in Scioto and surrounding counties in the tri-state area of Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia.

Page had a great time with students and looks forward to an exhibition of their work.

“It was an honor to work with such creative students at Northwest High School, and to hear their voices describe where they’re from,” Page said. “They wrote very interesting, timely, pieces about the places they know well.”

Darren Baker is a Lecturer in studio art and graphic design in the School of Art and Design at Ohio University and Coordinator for the Ohio University Chillicothe campus art program. He is the former Director of Visual Arts at the Southern Ohio Museum and Cultural Center in Portsmouth, Ohio where he curated numerous permanent, solo and group exhibition. He has received grants from the Ohio Arts Council, the Ohio Humanities Council, Midwest Arts Alliance, National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for Humanities, Ohio Museum Association and Ohio University. Additionally, he received funding from the John and Betty Hogden Foundation to study art, architecture, design and poetry in England, France and Italy. His international work continued with a consultation with Basler Papiermühle in 2018 and is investigating letterpress printing in Botswana and South Africa in 2021. Together with Don Adleta, he worked to build the new Don E Adleta Typeshop and Bindery in Seigfred Hall, a 900 square foot printshop dedicated to typography, letterpress and the handmade book. He is currently acting as manager and curator, actively collecting and expanding the collection of metal and wood type, press and other printing equipment.

The partnership between Page and Baker went over well for the students’ benefit.

The art students benefiting from the process are those in Chris Enz’s Northwest high school classes. Students are working with the two artists to create prints using this process of letterpress.

While Page was working with the students on “short form place-based creative nonfiction writing,” Baker had them selecting meaningful phrases or words from their written work and turn them into printed broadsides.

“Partnering with Darren Baker was a treat,” Page said. “Students wrote with me and Darren took words from what they wrote and worked with the students to make beautiful letterpress broadsides. I was continually impressed with the students’ responses to my prompts, and I’m incredibly honored that they were willing to participate fully and share their work freely.”

Students learned the letterpress processes, as they worked to make collaborative pieces of art. A final presentation of the work will take place at Northwest High School on Monday, October 24, at 5:30 p.m.

The Artist-in-Residency Program is coordinated by Sharee Price, Gifted Services Coordinator at the South Central Ohio Educational Service Center. What was once funded by the Ohio Arts Council, the project continues on under Price and a handful of partners. Partners for this project included William and Barbara Burke, Portsmouth Area Arts Council, Rotary Club of Portsmouth, Scioto Foundation, and SOMC.

“The students are completely engaged in both the creative writing and letterpress processes,” Price said during the workshop. “They are creating some amazing prints!”

Baker working with students working with students

Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved

Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved