Maddy Underwood: A Month in the Letterpress Studio

I’m Maddy, a designer and printer, originally from Nashville, TN. I was so lucky to be able to spend the month of September playing on the letterpress and making use of FCAC’s extensive wood & metal type collection.

I had recently attended a workshop at Penland School of Craft in North Carolina, where we explored using a laser engraver to make printing plates for letterpress. One thing I found really exciting there was using a combination of laser cut lines and thick gel medium to create a more painterly image for printing.

Because I had been drawing so many birds in my sketchbook recently (I am a bird enthusiast on the side!) I wanted to make some posters playing with this gel medium method. I also just wanted to make some posters for fun, using some of the wackier type I could find (such as the type on this Rochester, NY poster I did).

The work I did over the month helped me explore a new, more spontaneous side of letterpress that I’m excited to dive deeper into. Thank you to Megan and everyone at the Flower City Arts Center for having me!

RISOdency Update

Over the past few weeks I’ve been getting to know the Risograph duplicator and am finding it to be an incredibly versatile and useful machine for experimenting with image making. We’re so lucky in Rochester to have FCAC as a space where community members have access to specialized tools for art making!

I had the opportunity to teach an introductory workshop and whenever I teach I always learn more in the process. I really enjoyed seeing what color combinations and layering techniques the students used. FCAC also has a swatch book for the seven colors they keep in stock, which is helpful for the planning stages of any project.

Most of my interest in the Risograph comes from a need to expand my book making practice to larger editions. The cost effectiveness, speed, and eco friendliness of the Risograph far outweigh its drawbacks.

I have been primarily experimenting with the use of photographic imagery and was able to do this for the FCAC 2020 Printmaking and Book Arts calendar. The first two layers of my calendar month (June) were linoleum blocks printed on the Vandercook No.4 and the final two layers were printed using the Risograph duplicator.

I am also very excited about the potential for variation when printing on different colored papers. Below are a couple examples of images I’ve been working with so far:

AIR Introduction: Megan Magee Sullivan

Hello, I’m happy to introduce myself as the new Risograph Artist-in-Residence in Photography & Digital Arts at Flower City Arts Center. For the next 6 weeks I will be experimenting with the Risograph duplicator. As a producer of visual books, I’m excited to see how the Risograph will expand my ability to execute projects that involve images and text.

Photo by Jeremy Moule

As an interdisciplinary artist who creates books and experimental video, I appreciate how the two relate as time-based media. I utilize elements of personal and collective history, erasure poetry, and materials gathered from various public and private archives to examine the constructs of religion, family, and memory.

I’m looking forward to using the Risograph to execute a book project over the next several weeks. I will keep you up to date on my progress through the blog and my instagram @maggiemagees.

www.meganmageesullivan.com

And as She Came, She must Go

Endings.

 

It takes a great deal of grace and experience to learn how to make the most out of an ending.

 

Today is my final blog post as an Artist in Residence in the Photography and Digital Arts Department at the Flower City Arts Center.

 

The culmination of my year-long residency resulted in something I prayed for deeply and repeatedly but didn’t expect: stepping out as a performance artist.

My whole life I have been interested in movement. When I was three I refused to remove a tutu for three days straight. I wanted to be a ballerina. In my teens, I was an athlete using nutrition and exercise to sculpt my body and my endurance. In my twenties, I fell in love with yoga. I have always loved to dance and challenge my body to move, stretch, grind, and groove.

 

The artifacts of my residency–deeply researched and painstakingly curated photographs–are now being stored away until further notice. However, in the gallery space where they were on view during the month of April, they contributed to an enveloping feeling of transformation.

 

I make art for my mental well being because I must. Yet the truly fulfilling experience is the impact my art has on my audience. The feedback I receive about personal insights, inspirations, and transformations from people interacting with my work fuels my soul. I am grateful to have received a healthy dose of uplifting feedback from the Rochester community. This reveals to me a community ready for a transfusion of new feminine archetypal energy.

 

The work pushed me. My choice to do a performance haunted me. I had to show up for myself in ways I had never done before–push myself along and over edges that scared the heck out of me. The reality of the performance caused such fear to rise up in my bowels that I asked myself frequently, “why did I do this to myself!?”

I did it because I must. Because I am unsatisfied with a life of status quos, mediocrity, and normalcy. I crave the depths, connection, transformation, inner purpose, beauty, connection, healing, joy, sorrow, expression, recognition. I am grateful to myself, to my guides, to my mentors and friends, and to Megan Charland who had faith in my vision. So, I built an altar and sanctified a space for transformation to take place, within me and within the other, in unison.

 

Now What?

 

A tiresome question for an artist at the apex of a big project.

 

It is an abrupt sort of question to receive right at the level of commencement or just following.

 

My response: Let’s just be present a while in what is currently surrounding us or what has just emerged. I anointed myself in my own menstrual blood and buried myself in a mound of dirt. What follows is a psychological grace period where I slowly integrate the power of my actions and take long naps.

 

There is a practice of staying indoors with a newborn baby for 40 days just the following birth. This second gestational period post birth allows the child’s nervous system to fully settle. The kundalini teachings say that after this time if taken in rest and connection with the parents, the child is set for life with a healthy nervous system.

Who does this? In a fast-paced world that demands much of us, most newborns are in car seats, whizzing around the world to social gatherings, before they are a week old. I have thought of this practice often in the time following my performance, feeling deeply renewed and unknown even to myself as I reconfigure who I am and what I am capable of.

 

You will be able to find me at the Flower City Arts Center through the Spring for a number of elementally charged classes. You will also be able to find me at The Yards throughout June as one of six artists in residence in their summer program. I am looking forward to deepening my commitment to ritual and movement practice, building community, and producing more experiences to evaluate and enjoy our aliveness in.