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Local studio provides printmaking workshops

BY SAMANTHA GENTRY | FEBRUARY 28, 2013 5:00 AM

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Eight- to 12-year-old authors and artists surround a 100-year-old Italian intaglio press while patiently waiting to create personalized book covers.

This is the scene at Zenzic Press, 120 N. Dubuque St., where 18 students participate in a workshop titled “re-NOUN-ed” through the Iowa Youth Writing Program.

The recently developed studio hosts various workshops for those interested in printmaking and provides access to costly printmaking equipment for local artists for a fee. The business is right at home in Iowa City — the University of Iowa printmaking program has ranked among the best in the country for nearly 50 years.

During some of the workshops, the participants are able to explore the visual and literary arts through the “nouns” they care about — people, places, and things — and turn their written pieces into a mini-book.

UI freshman Lauren Audetat, a volunteer at the workshop, said that at first, she was nervous about how the kids would react to the lesson plan, but it went surprisingly well.

This week, the students were put to the task of focusing on the “people” part of nouns. The children were to create their own dictionary in which they defined someone important to them and then wrote a larger creative piece.

“We had to expand the definition of person a little bit because some kids wanted to write about their pets or one girl said Spider-Man was important to her,” Audetat said. “But they did pretty well.”

After the students finished writing, their work was bound in books that represented their particular person, and they printed a cover.

UI junior Annie Christenson, another volunteer, said one student wrote about a character named Shadow Girl whom she was working on in a story. The book cover was printed black, and then the student printed in a sketch of a shadow on the front.

“I was very impressed by their creativity and everything they came up with,” Christenson said. “I never had to sit down and guide them, which was awesome.”

Kristen Necessary, the director at Zenzic Press, said she was greatly inspired by the conceptual and artistic abilities of the participants at the first workshop.

“The young artists and writers of Iowa City are truly inspiring,” she said. “In printmaking, you never really know how an image is going to translate or change in the process of printing. There is a magical moment when you pull the paper from your plate and see the image for the first time. Watching the participants of the first workshop pull their first prints was such a rewarding experience.”

Zenzic Press started in September 2012 with Necessary and codirector Chris Mortenson after successfully completing a $10,000 Kickstarter.com fundraising campaign.

Necessary said they wanted to provide public access to printmaking equipment and studio space to the artists, writers, and creators of all kinds who studied at the UI, but upon completion of their work, lost access not only to the equipment they depended upon but to the support of the collaborative community that arises in communal studios.

“We sought to fill this need by creating a sustainable space with professional printmaking facilities that provides affordable access to expensive equipment and an energetic group of dynamic and knowledgeable community of other teachers and makers,” Necessary said.

In November 2012, Zenzic was awarded a $5,000 grant for educational outreach from the Community Foundation of Johnson County. This began the partnership with the Iowa Youth Writing Project.

“The energy and commitment of the [Youth Writing Project] volunteers is amazing,” Necessary said. “They consistently present innovative, top-quality programming for Iowa youths and it is an honor to work with it.”

Next week, the students will take on the task of “place,” in which they will stick to the dictionary concept and describe a favorite place or somewhere they want to go.

“[The students] have the amazing ability to teach you how much you still have to learn,” Necessary said. “I just can’t wait to work with them more. I know they will teach me more than I can ever teach them.”

ART
Zenzic Press
Where: 120 N. Dubuque
Hours: Wednesday Noon-5 p.m., Friday 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Fees: $10 per day/session or membership access available


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