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

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.

Celebrate the Best Parts of Fall

As summer cools down and leaves begin to change, it is a great time to meditate on the beauty and uniqueness that fall brings. These three classes at Flower City are a great way to get out and experience the wonder that is Upstate New York’s autumn!

Landscape Photography: How Did We Get Where We Are?
October 1st-November 11th, Mondays 6:30 pm-8:30 pm

This class is perfect for nature lovers! The class will begin of a survey of the history of landscape photography and its evolution in the past 150 years. Students will also participate in a shooting outing and discuss their results. This is a great chance to get study other artists, get outdoors and improve your photography skills!

Click here to register for this class or to learn more!

Van Dyke Brown Workshop
November 9th, 12-3 pm

This one day workshop utilizes Van Dyke Brown, a process similar to kallitype, to create warm toned prints. These brown toned prints, are perfect for capturing the spirit of fall. Participants bring their own B&W film negative, so subject matter is completely open! Images can range from 120mm to 4×5 film size. Make sure you don’t miss out on this special workshop!

Click here to register for this class or to learn more!

Boo! Photograms
October 26th, 10 am-12 pm

Everyone knows, the best thing about fall is Halloween! This short class is fun for the entire family and perfect way to spend time with kids 8+. Create B&W photogram prints in the darkroom using our creepy crawly toys! These are great mementos to keep as halloween decorations for years to come!

Click here to register for this class or to learn more!

Don’t miss the chance to improve your photography skills and have fun! Click here to see all classes offered at Flower City. Hope to see you there!



Intern Introduction: Riley Donahue

Hello there! My name is Riley Donahue and I am a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I am currently studying Visual Communication. Much of my artistic interest lies in digital art and bookmaking. I also dabble in photography and painting. In the future I would love to work in Marketing.

When I am not at Flower City, I work at a summer camp with children ages 3-5. I really enjoy getting to share crafts with them and bask in their natural creativity! In my free time I am an avid traveler returned from a trip to Peru just before the start of my internship. I love getting to experience new cultures and draw inspiration from beautiful places. I am a also huge fan of hiking and being in the outdoors, preferably alongside my 4 dogs.

This summer I hope to be able to improve my digital art skills as well as branch out and try new mediums or techniques. So far I have helped out with Flower City’s Photo Garage Sale which has given me great real-world experience and given me the chance to come face to face with many of the people who support this wonderful place! I am so grateful for this opportunity and cannot wait to do more!

My art Instagram is @rdonahuedesigns.

Beer + Film

Have you ever wondered what happens when you take film and process it in beer? I had never thought about it until I stumbled across an article describing the process a little over a month ago. So what better way to find out what happens then to do it!

Photo Credit: Marianna Pojman

On March 15 Juliana Muniz, and myself ran a workshop with 5 other photographers to see the results for ourselves. Everyone shot a roll or two of Black & White 400 iso film including Kodak Tri-X, T-Max, and Ilford HP5.

Click here for the recipe.

Photo Credit: Marianna Pojman

We decided to process together as a group using cans of Guinness, the same 15 minute developing time and 85 degrees fahrenheit chemistry for all our rolls of film. We had pretty decent results, everyone had images! Everyones negatives were dense, but printable, with the Tri-X coming out the best.

Below is an example of a contact sheet from a roll of Tri-X and a print made from the boozy negative.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the workshop! Can’t wait to try this again with some different beers, or maybe a cider. If you would like to see more prints made from our Beer + Film experiment come check out a Darkroom Club meeting, the next one is April 27.

Photo Credit: Sean Butler

Photo Credit: Sean Butler








PS: For anyone planning to try out this recipe, make sure the beer is 85 degrees fahrenheit before adding in the washing soda, or you’ll have solid clumps in your beer.

Prepping for The Painted Photograph Exhibit

Hi everyone! Jen Perena here, using this weird limbo time in between Christmas and New Years while the Photo Dept is closed to prep for my upcoming exhibit.

I spent some time the week before Christmas scanning all of my kallitypes. I still have some editing to do, but the goal is to prepare digital files (essentially coming full circle, as all the images started as digital photos on my iPhone!) which I can use to make a book or a zine.

Scanning my kallitypes

I’m not that great with Photoshop, but Megan showed me how to crop and edit my files for a book versus what to do for a zine. My goal with this task is to prepare something that will be available while my exhibit is running, though I am not sure I’ll be able to finish in time for the opening.

Editing scans
Editing scans of my kallitypes in Photoshop

Then just after Christmas I started matting and framing. This is the most labor-intensive part of the exhibit prep: cleaning all the glass, measuring all the prints, cutting all the mats, assembling the ‘sandwiches’, and putting the frames together. Without messing it up!

cleaning glass
Washing the glass: my least favorite part about matting and framing, though it can be a good workout!

I know a lot of people would hire someone else to do this part, but it’s not the way I was ‘raised’ by Pearl and Glossy. Though tedious, it makes the difference in how the entire show looks once it’s up on the wall.

For this exhibit, all of the images, which are pretty close to 8×10 size, will be matted and framed to size 16×20. I was hoping to have a total of 20 images, but looks like I will have a few more. I was fortunate to be able to borrow some framing supplies so I didn’t have to purchase all new frames and glass….and that was actually a huge $$ savings.

matting supplies
Matting supplies: two-ply and four-ply mat board, and flat black Nielsen metal frames, in 16 and 20 inch pieces

These photos are from last week when I framed the first six prints. That session lasted about 4 hours….which was an hour longer than expected (I usually do one frame in about 30 min), in part because I sliced my finger while cleaning a piece of glass (Pat Cain would be so mad at me!) and had to get bandaged (and clean up the blood) before proceeding…. and in part because it’s been over a year, and it takes a bit to get back into a flow of remembering how the mat cutters work and how to put frames together.

measuring mats
Marking the mat boards in preparation for cutting

The mat cutters can be tricky buggers. You need a sharp blade, adjusted to the correct depth, pieces of foam core lined up to the side so the large mat board lays flat and doesn’t bend, and a ‘clean’ piece of board underneath where you are cutting. And putty – don’t forget the putty! Otherwise the cutter slides around all over the table.

cutting mats
Using the Alto mat board cutters to hand cut all my mats

I managed OK for the first few, but then started to see burrs on the beveled edge – indicating either blade depth was off, or the blade was getting blunted, or the paper underneath was too chewed up, allowing paper fibers to pull up into the bevel cut – or it could have also been all three; In the end the clean line I was seeking was not happening, and I had to sacrifice several pieces of my beautiful white four-ply mat while I continued to troubleshoot.

inspecting the beveled edge
Inspecting the beveled edge and smoothing out the little rough bits

Thankfully friends were able to help me with some tips and techniques, showing me some things I had forgotten (like using an emery board to file small burrs off the beveled edge), and by the time I am writing this post, 17 of the prints are matted and framed to my satisfaction. This is good AND bad news, since I still have 7 more to go and we were planning to start hanging the show on Wed, Jan 2…..

Anyway, I hope to finish the matting and framing in time….then we need to fine tune labels, finalize my show statement, and plan out refreshments for the opening – Saturday, January 12 from 2 to 5 pm. I hope you can all make it!

In the meantime, head over to Instagram and check out the @i.heart.roc feed – I’m taking it over starting tomorrow (New Years Day!) through January 4th, and I’ll be sharing some of my favorite places and things in Rochester.

Best wishes to you all for a Very Happy New Year!

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.

Intern Farewell: DesRee Taylor


Photo of me working on images for the website

It’s hard to believe the end of August is almost here and that my time at Flower City Arts Center is almost over. Reflecting on my time here, I have learned so much and had many great experiences. While I was here I kept a log of what I did everyday, and looking at it now there are a few projects and experiences that really stand out to me.

Photo of the Images I hung by the film drying station

One of my favorite projects of the entire summer was one of the first things I did, and that was reorganizing and archiving the class files. While that may sound painfully boring to many, I really enjoyed it and it was an important experience for me as a museum studies student as I think it helped me realize what type of work I’d like to do in the future. The other experience that stood out to me was being able to join the Studio Photography for Teens class on their field trip to the George Eastman Museum. I had the opportunity to meet David Levinthal and hear him speak about his own work as well as his process. I was also able to work with some of the artists in residence here and be present on the Flower City Arts Center’s social media. One experience that combined these things was when I was able to be a part of the live Instagram interview with AIR Megan May. Of course, these were not the only experiences that left an impression on me; everything I did here taught me something.

Photo I took during the field trip to the George Eastman Museum

Without Flower City Arts Center and the amazing staff here, I would not have had any of these experiences or opportunities and I am so grateful for the time that I have spent here. From the youth program, to the artist in residency program, to the internship program, and everything else this center has to offer, Flower City Arts Center is a unique part of the Rochester community and I am thankful that I was able to be a part of it for these past three months. I value the time that I have spent here so much, and I hope that my departure isn’t a “goodbye” and is more of a “see ya later”.

Photo of me with AIR Megan May after her live Instagram interview