An Interview with Josi Etter

Josi Etter is a visual artist living and working in Rochester, NY. Josi was a Printmaking & Book Arts, artist-in-residence from 2019 – 2021 and currently teaches a variety of classes at Flower City Arts Center. Her exhibition, Stars + Bars: No Country for Beginners was on display in the Sunken Room Gallery at Flower City Arts Center throughout December 2021. Below, Josi answers questions about her artwork and process.

For those that were unable to see Stars + Bars: No Country for Beginners in person, can you describe the exhibition?

Stars + Bars is a critical view of a country filled with paradox and difficulty.

It is artwork about American people and places and their internal and external struggle.

I try to explain and visualize our discord in a subtle, graphic and aesthetic tale. 

It is a view from a foreign insider’s perspective. The work consists of etchings, sculpture and some interactive parts (“Merchandise Stand”, “American News Raffle” and the conceptual artwork: “Who is for sale?”).

Can you describe your latest body of work?

I come from a painting background and this show is something very new to me. 

The work is created using a “drypoint etching technique” with a combination of acrylics, pencil drawing and gold leaf. Color is used very sparse, lines and shapes are the main focus. It is a very precise and time consuming technique and requires a lot of patience. Etching does not leave a lot of room for errors. 

Although the lines are drawn fine, the work seems bold and is certainly figurative.

In addition, I enjoyed creating different kinds of three dimensional sculpture for the show and think that they are a good supplement.

What did you learn during your time as an artist-in-residence at Flower City Arts Center?

I learned that I am a very inquisitive person. I always want to see and learn what other people work on. It is very inspiring to have other artists and people around who create high quality work.

Where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration everywhere. I look quietly around at people, streets, landscapes, nature, pictures and there it is….

Keep in mind that the American culture is still new to me, and therefore I do see things with “fresh, curious eyes”.

What is your favorite time of day to be in the studio?

The hard work is generally done in the morning. It is the most quiet time and I have the most energy. Though I collect ideas and sketches during any time of the day or during the stillness of the night.

What motivates you to create?

That is a really hard question to answer…

It’s an inner urge. I think it just has to get out! 

It’s like a cup which overflows and when it’s full, it spills over and that’s what makes interesting art then. Maybe that’s how it works?!

What do you think makes a good artist?

The ability to observe and to feel a lot of empathy for your surroundings. You have to be a good reader of the world and be able to find things within yourself to mirror them on to some sort of canvas. 

You also need time – time is a good teacher.

One has to find the intricate balance between truth, beauty and craftsmanship. That makes good art for me.

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!

Photo Club Newsletter 2019-2020

Photo by Ni’Yana

Photo of Gabrieliz by Joel

Photo of Ni’Yana by Josiah

Hello everyone, Photo Club has made some exciting changes this year. We have expanded! Flower City Arts Center now proudly serve up to 45 students in 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th grades from Wilson Foundation Academy and James Monroe High School.

The six goals of Photo Club are to:

  • empower youth to express their voice and vision
  • establish one to three year mentoring relationships
  • encourage youth to connect with their community
  • enhance knowledge of core school subjects
  • enable youth to build life skills
  • energize youth to work together in groups

Here’s some background and a sneak preview of  student work.

Photo Club started in the spring of 1999 and is now in its twenty-second consecutive year. Conducted by Flower City Arts Center, Photo Club is a 24 session after-school photography and writing program. After years of development, Studio 678’s model has been expanded to include Studio 789, James Monroe High School Photo Club.

Photo by Isabela

Students use a professional film camera to take pictures in the community, make their own black & white prints in the darkroom, write poems or stories to accompany their photographs, create a book of their work in the digital lab, and mat and frame their prints for exhibition.

Photo by Jadaly

The photography instructors at Flower City Arts Center work in partnership with teachers Michael Brundage and Alicia Oddo of  Wilson Foundation Academy, and Shanterra Chalice and Nilsa Irizarry of James Monroe High School.  These dedicated and caring  teachers provide an essential link from the school to our after-school program. They help recruit students, participate in every meeting, and monitor the academic performance, attendance, and individual needs of our students.

Photo by Desire

Photo Club is free to students; Flower City Arts Center secures funding for the program each year. This year’s supporters include Canfield and Tack, Cheryl & Don Olney, Daisy Marquis Jones Foundation, DiBella’s, Fay Slover Fund at The Boston Foundation,

Photo by Isabela

Feinbloom Supporting Foundation, Joy of Giving Something, Lumiere, William & Sheila Konar Foundation, Mary S. Mulligan Charitable Trust, Nancy Sands, Teresa Sipone, Vicki & Richard Schwartz Family Fund, Janet Buchanan Smith, Jeanne & Tom Verhulst, Fred & Floy Willmott Foundation, and many individuals.

Kodak Alaris donated film, Blessed Sacrament Church provided use of their parking lot, and Domino’s donated pizza. Aenon Missionary Baptist Church provided us with vans to bring students to Flower City Arts Center from school, and to various field trip sites. The Greater Rochester Community Transportation Foundation provided a grant to pay for some of the transportation costs.

Photo of Kingston by Sahara

Look what we have been up to!

At our first meeting in September, students came to Flower City Arts Center to learn about photography by making photograms in the darkroom and learning how a 35mm film camera works.  We then assigned five students to each of the nine lead photography instructors to form groups for the year.  14 students from last year rejoined our club.

We then began rotating our time between field trips, including two Saturday trips, making black and white prints in the darkrooms at Flower City Arts Center, and learning how to scan and edit images using Photoshop.

Our field trip sites included…

Colleges – Monroe Community College, Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of Rochester.

Thermal photo of Ms. Liz’s group at RIT

Urban settings – Monroe Avenue, Neighborhood of the Arts, Martin Luther King Memorial Park, Public Market, Village Gate, High and Low Falls and Rochester Public Library.

Ms. Kylie’s group at MCC

Natural settings – Hemlock Hills Alpaca Farm, Lamberton Conservatory, Begin Again Horse Rescue, Cobbs Hill, Cracker Box Palace Animal Shelter, Sunken Gardens and Washington Grove.

Ms. Kylie group at Cracker Box Palace Animal Rescue

A variety of work places – stores on Monroe Avenue, Pet Pride of New York, Verona St Animal Society, Allie’s Pet Corner, Rochester Police Department Technicians Unit, and Rochester Fire Department Engine 1.

Ms. Juliana group visiting the Technicians Unit at RPD

Museums and historical sites – Mt. Hope Cemetery, Ganondagan State Historical Site, George Eastman Museum, Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester Museum and Science Center,   and Strong Museum of Play.

Photo by Latifa

Community events – Fringe Street Beat and other Fringe Festival events, and Hilton Apple Festival.

Photo by James

Arts and cultural locations – UUU Gallery, Performing Arts Center at MCC, Photojournalism Projects Exhibition opening at RIT’s William Harris Gallery.

Mr. Quajay’s group in the Lighting Studio

In November and December students used the photography lighting studio to take portraits of each other. From November to January, poets Doug Curry, Grace Flores, Arthur “Marvelous Marvin” McCraw, and Laura Thompson performed their own poems for inspiration and helped the students create poems to accompany their pictures.

Students also learned how to scan their images  and use Photoshop in our digital lab to help create a section of book pages, with their writing and photos, and to create a multi media presentation. All the students brainstormed ideas for the book titles Wilson’s cohort chose “Through Our Eyes” and Monroe’s cohort chose “Shared Life Through the Lens”. The book cover photographs will be revealed at the ceremonies this Spring.

Currently, students are matting and framing  photographs for their final exhibition. Some students will make 11X14 size prints for an exhibit at Image City Photography Gallery.  In March, photos will be selected for permanent placement in a variety of community settings funded by the Fay Slover Fund at the Boston Foundation.

Studio 678 Wilson Foundation Academy Photo Club Final Ceremony

City Hall, 30 Church Street, Rochester, NY 14614,                                           Friday, March 27th, 2020

  • 6:30 pm: Awards Ceremony & Book Release in the City Council Chambers, third floor
    • Multi media Presentation of student art
    • Award Presentation with guest speaker
    • Book Release, copy awarded to each student
  • 7:30 pm: Exhibition Opening Reception in The Link Gallery, first floor
    • A selection of Studio 678 members’ photographs, writing, and special projects will be on display.

Studio 789 James Monroe High School Photo Club Final Ceremony

James Monroe High School, 164 Alexander Street, Rochester, NY 14607 Saturday, March 28th, 2020

  • 11:00 am: Awards Ceremony & Book Release in the Gymnasium
    • Multi media Presentation of student art
    • Award Presentation with guest speaker
    • Book Release, copy awarded to each student
  • 12:00 pm: Exhibition Opening Reception in the Atrium
    • A selection of Studio 789 members’ photographs, writing, and special projects will be on display.

Please support these young photographers with your presence at these uplifting events celebrating the hard work, perseverance, and creativity of our students! We hope to see you there!

UPDATE: Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic we have postponed both the Studio 678 & 789 Exhibition Openings, Awards Ceremonies, and Book Releases. We plan to hold both at Flower City Arts Center at the end of May if we are able. For the most up-to-date information please check out our Facebook page

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:

Intern Introduction: Jade Hansen

Photograph from my Era Renaissance project, 2019.

Hello! My name is Jade Hansen and I am a student at Eastern Monroe Career Center enrolled in their photography/visual communication program. As it is my senior year of high school my EMCC program gives us the opportunity to intern at a place in our future field. I have been taking classes here at Flower City Arts Center almost every summer since I was little, and was fortunate enough to be able to intern here! My personal interests in photography lay mostly in the realm of portraiture and nature, as well as an interest in film and other analog processes. I do also do some graphic work both digitally and traditionally. I love drawing assorted ghoulish things!

Risographs printed today from my Creepy House illustration.

Aside from my interests in the art world, I enjoy collecting bones and dead insects (I’m a HUGE fan of bees), and I have two cats that I love very much! My internship started last Monday and so far we have been exploring the new Riso printer (creating a swatch book of the colors and experimenting) I am defiantly enjoying it so far! If you are interested in seeing any of my work, my instagram handles are @thecoffinismoving (photography) and, @artghoulz (all other non photography art). I am looking forward to learning new things and creating here! -Jade

Kallitype Progress Report

Happy Monday everyone! Jen Perena here with a look at some of my recent work.

Over the past couple sessions, I have been focusing on making prints that feature vegetation of some sort: vegetables, flowers, herbs, cacti, grasses, etc. In this post I’ll share an image of chive flowers and another of squash blossoms.

My intention with this part of the series is to produce images that I can watercolor over. When I initially conceived of this grouping, I was visualizing slightly underexposed images that would allow me to paint the entire image without ‘losing’ too much of the color in the shadows. I selected a set of vividly-colored iPhone photos, converted them to black and white, digitally manipulated them so that they would produce ‘dense negatives’ and then began contact printing. But it is never easy.

I started by printing with the very smooth print-makers paper that I mentioned a few posts back. Process-wise, when you expose the paper, then remove the negative, you are looking for a ‘whisper’ of the image. In both cases, after 5-min exposures, I got great ‘whispers’….but upon development, most of the chemistry washed away, and by the time I got to toning, there wasn’t much left. For these, I would have needed much longer exposures….however, the resulting lighter gray-toned images should work well for the watercoloring process.

Here you can see the ‘whisper’ on the left after the print came out of the UV unit, and then the final image, dried down, on the right, looking washed out and underexposed

Same thing here with the squash blossoms image – ‘whisper’ on the left, final image on the right

I next coated some of the watercolor paper I had been using. Same 5 minute exposure times, but the watercolor paper retains the chemistry much better, so these came out looking really overexposed.

Here you can see the chive flowers looking very dark, too dark to water color over and actually too overexposed to use

And for the squash blossoms, though I think this is also too dark, I really like how it came out, and I would consider not coloring it

I haven’t decided which I like best yet, but I plan to do more printing: using the watercolor paper again I’ll print shorter exposures, and using the print-makers paper I’ll print longer exposures, and see if I can get a more happy medium of resulting images with both papers. And then hopefully it will be easier to decide which to use for the watercoloring.

Stay tuned for samples of the watercolored images….

Writing with Light

Liz here, last week Flower City Arts Center had the honor of collaborating again with Writers & Books to offer Writing with Light. This class taught students to write their own stories and poems with  writer Karen van Meenen and then learn how to create their own black and white photographs with photographers Juliana Muniz, Christal Knight, and myself. The students also created  a book in order to showcase their hard work!


I had a blast walking around our beautiful Rochester neighborhoods, and making prints with the students. Everyone picked up the process so quickly, and no one melted in the heat. Here are some photographs of the students out shooting in Neighborhood of the Arts, and in the Community Darkrooms at Flower City Arts Center.

Special thanks to the students for their hard work, and enthusiasm! I hope everyone can comes back next year for another great week of Writing with Light.

Carina Christman

Claire Lustig

Cornelia Crumley

Eamon Capps

Evan Michaels

Kelsey Gallager

Marco Hill

Maya Taylor-Bush

Tamsin Spiller

Violet Laux

Yeshua Alba

Zion Thomas

Copies of the book are on sale for $14. Please click here if you are interested in purchasing a book.

What Does Femininity Mean to You? Part 2

Something incredible is happening for me.


As I continue to explore and research feminine expression through a larger cultural context, the idea of femininity is starting to break free of gender.


Femininity does not belong to any of us, but it belongs to all of us. It is there as an opportunity to be expressed, enjoyed and embodied.


She is the primordial energy of creation and is for each of us


I was listening to a panel discussion held by my teacher and friend, Guru Jagat with Shaman Durek and actress Kelly Rutherford. At one point Shaman Durek calls for “The Liberation of the Feminine,” and that struck a truth cord for me.


You can watch the discussion titled, “Alchemy of the Empowered Woman,” here.


The cross-cultural and expansive reclamation of powerful feminine expression is driving our cultural shift right now. There is no doubt in me about that.


For me, it will continue to be a playful and critical analysis and expression of my own feminine alter egos and how my identity as a cis-gender woman has been informed by positive, toxic and co-opted expressions of feminine virtue.

She is an infinity expressed by each of us @meganjoymay

AIR Introduction: Jennifer Perena

Hi everyone! I am super excited to be typing this introduction as the reality of becoming a Resident Artist in the Photography & Digital Arts department at the Flower City Arts Center sinks in!

Many of you know me, and have known me for years. I am a Rochester native, and have been a continual student here in the photography department since 2002, when I took my first class after being laid off from a job. That class, “Introduction to Black and White Photography”, taught by Mercedes Fages, was a refresher for me, as I had learned to develop film and make black and white prints in a darkroom back in high school. After graduating and going on to college, I continued shooting black and white film with my trusty Nikon F3, but never returned to the darkroom…until 2002.

Portrait of me with my Community Darkroom apron by Tin Type instructor Tammie Malarich; this was the first workshop where I fell in love with a multi-step alternative process

Since that time, not only have I taken dozens of classes, but I have volunteered and taught with the Studio 678 youth photo club (for roughly 14 years), served as a volunteer monitor for the Darkroom (for roughly 15 years), and served as a Board member (6 years) and active member of multiple Board committees (14 years). In other words, a huge part of my creative adult life has been spent here, learning, volunteering, supporting  and being inspired by the community of artists here at the Center, and I am really thrilled to have this opportunity to make work under the Artist Residency program!

Me with my Studio 678 group at their graduation ceremony, City Hall 2017

In the field making tin types with instructor Chris Schwer

These days my main focus is alternative process photography. I love making prints where each one is totally unique, even if the starting point and process is totally the same. I have dabbled in tin types, wet plate collodion, cyanotypes and palladium printing, to name a few, but my current love is kallitypes. Kallitypes are basically silver-based contact prints. In my case, I start with iPhone photos, digitally manipulate them, create plastic negatives from them, then hand-coat watercolor paper, and make prints in a light box. Because of things like humidity, age of the chemistry, paper quality, mood of the artist, etc, each print comes out different. And sometimes they don’t really come out at all, but I still love it. It is really exciting!

One of the first kallitypes that I made that actually turned out well!

Another print of the same image didn’t come out as well, so I applied watercolor to it; I like them both!

My residency will run through almost to the end of February 2019, and during that time I hope to make many new images, resulting in an exhibition in January. I spend a lot of time at the Center and hope that if you see me, you’ll stop to say hello. I look forward to seeing you around!