Posts By: Angee

Please Take Our Audience Survey

To better understand who we serve, and to ultimately be able to provide better support to our community, we are asking people who have participated in Spudnik Press programs over the past year to tell us about yourself as an artist, maker, or patron.

This survey is an important component of our strategic goals towards Audience Development and Artist Support. By better knowing who we are serving, who’s taking classes, printing in the studio, attending events, and relying on our services, we can develop responsive programs that are accessible and approachable to all who wish to join our programs.

All questions on this survey are completely anonymous, and any question may be skipped. We will use this information to better understand the community we serve, so we appreciate you telling us as much as you can.

As a thank you, we are giving away a $50 Visa Gift Card! Once you submit your survey, you will have a chance to enter the drawing using a separate form.

Take our Audience Survey

Member Interview Series: Yasaman Moussavi

Yasaman Moussavi holds an MFA with two emphases on Painting and Printmaking from Texas Tech University, where she explored and developed her skills in papermaking, printmaking, and installation art. She also holds an MA in Art Studies from Tehran University and a BFA in Painting. In her art practice, she explores the socio-cultural in-betweenness as a capacity and disposition to participate in meaning-making across cultures and languages. For her, transitional spaces are the performative embodiment of spatial mapping and in-betweenness. Her works have been displayed in many national and international solo and group exhibitions. She has been a member of the Spudnik Press Exhibition Committee since 2017. She is a co-founder of Didaar Art Collective, a Chicago-based Iranian art community. Yasaman currently lives and works in Chicago. 

Yasaman was interviewed by Aidan Ciuperca as part of his Spring 2020 Internship at Spudnik Press Cooperative. Aidan is a printmaker pursuing his BFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.


Aidan Ciuperca (AC): How would you describe your practice to someone who has never seen your work before?

Yasaman (Yasi) Moussavi (YM): I’m interested in concepts of space and place, and how these two things convey a common kind of experience. Place can be defined as where we physically live and where we find security, but space is more of a subjective kind of experience about sensation and desire. For instance, in my recent work Intervals, I explore creating the sense of space through architecture and linguistic structure. My goal was to make sense of the feelings we have when we are in a place and allow it to be experienced through a tactile material like paper. This is a subject matter that’s not tangible, so the materiality is important in order to make sense of those feelings. 

AC: What led you to working with printmaking and papermaking?

YM: When you think about traveling through places, you are in between two different locations. The important part of that experience is not where you start or where you want to end up. It’s how you move through the space, what you are experiencing, and all the steps you take. Printmaking and papermaking both have those technical and psychological qualities, which is why I started using them. When I studied in Tehran, Iran, the education was focused on the academic study of figurative painting and drawing, but when I traveled to the United States, everything changed. I started to think about the ways the material I work with can be important in the process, and in the creation of the material.

Intervals by Yasaman Moussavi

Intervals Installation at the Beverly Arts Center

AC: How does your work with printmaking and papermaking connect to installation? 

YM: The shift in my work from 2D to 3D is tied to the way my life changed when I moved. I initially moved to Lubbock, Texas in 2012 to get my MFA at Texas Tech University, but in 2014, I returned to Iran for six weeks before coming back to continue my education. I went to see the traditional architecture in Isfahan, where my dad is from. There is a mosque there that I visited many times as a child called Sheikh Lotfolah. It has a narrow hallway with windows that bring light into the space. As you walk through that hallway, all of a sudden you see that a bigger space opens up to you. When I experienced that transition, I felt like there was something more than just the patterns, the colors, and all the interesting details of Islamic art. It’s not about that anymore. For me, it was about something bigger than myself, something that I experienced by moving through that space. That was the moment that I felt like painting just wasn’t something that could share that experience with my audience. In the same year, I was lucky enough to experience another architectural space: James Turrell’s Breathing Light at LACMA. I went into the space and there was nothing there but light. In that moment, I experienced a feeling similar to what I discovered at the mosque. These two different kinds of architectural spaces and places got me thinking about creating something that’s not just about the visual work, but about that experience. 

Shadow Facing the Light Installation at Texas Tech University

I ended up making my first installation piece called Shadow Facing the Light as part of my thesis for my MFA. For about a year I was drawing and painting on big sheets of paper, about 6 feet to 8 feet tall. In the installation, I played with the effects of light on engraved plexiglass and copper plates to build the space. When you asked about how my work changed and how I transitioned from painting to installation-based work, it was because I started to think about what I’m experiencing right now and how I want to share it with my audiences. 

As for my relationship to printmaking, I started to explore the process more during my MFA. During my last year I was making drypoints on wood and thinking about the process of the work. I started working on wood because, at that time, I was thinking about the effects of nature and its networks. As I created those drypoints, I started to think that I wanted to use the plates as a work of art because all the steps in printmaking are also part of the work. So, I started to print from the plates and then use them in my installation. I would cut them, shape them, and color them to create a new space. The Passengers Series, created from my wood drypoints, is all about the process of the work, nature, and how I can make use of the cliché of printmaking, the blocks, as a work of art. 

Passengers Installation

AC: What part of your work do you find most fulfilling?

YM: The most important and fulfilling part of the work for me is when I am creating and developing the work. It’s that process of thinking, producing, and critiquing yourself that is really enjoyable for me. Because sometimes I’ll discover something in my work that wasn’t intentional, and it surprises me! For instance, last year when I started to work on the Interval Series, I was making large papers at Spudnik. I wanted to build big sheets, but it was really hard sharing the space with other people, not having the studio for yourself. As I started to grow, I started to consider how I should handle this situation and discovered something new about the process of the work. I was thinking about the central courtyard architecture of the 17th-18th century in Iran and the family house in Isfahan. But when I started to make them, I faced challenges with the space that I was working in. It even changed the way that I was thinking about the place in space. 

The other important part is when you see your work, as you visualize it, in the gallery space. That is really, really enjoyable for me especially because I don’t have a studio right now, and as an installation artist, it’s very hard. I have a corner in my house where I work, and if you come to my house, you’ll see that that corner is just covered in nails. I have been making small maquettes of my work and then nailing it to the wall. I think that it’s hard for me to experience and explore the space in the smaller version, but it works.

AC: The way you’ve been working in this corner of your house brings up the issue of how artists have had to adapt to making work at home because of the pandemic. I was wondering if there were any skills or hobbies that you’ve been working on.

YM: The corner has been getting too crowded because of the pandemic, because before that I went to Spudnik and I made work there. But now during the pandemic I haven’t had that chance, so I started to work with the paper and stories that I already have. I’m working on a series of small squares made from scraps of my handmade paper. As each day passes, I take one of those papers, pin it to the wall, and another one, and another one. They’re getting really thick and they’re getting really big. 

I also started to read more in my own language: short stories and my great grandparent’s diary. When the pandemic started, each week I would read two short stories with a group of colleagues. I started to use them in my work: the sentences, the words, what they mean. I started to analyze how I can use them, how the structure of the language can relate to the structure of the work that I’ve created. I started to ask questions and explore Farsi and English and how language creates a sense of communication. In a pandemic especially, you don’t have the kind of social connection that you find physically in an environment. You experience it differently in virtual spaces like Zoom and also in writing, like texting your friends or writing for yourself. We are exploring and experiencing an era that is making history. All of these things for sure have influenced me and my work. At the same time, it’s really hard to think and work, so for me all of these are sketches and questions. 

“Constructing space through words, sentences and written forms” work in progress from Instagram

AC: Yeah– like the work on your Instagram!

YM: Yes! Let me explain the process of the work. I’ll read a story, short stories or even my own journal or my grand grandparent’s diary. All of those stories are interesting, but sometimes I’ll just have a feeling with a word or sentence. I’ll think about it more, about the letters, about the meaning of that word, about its different meanings in other languages. It’s all about the communication, how you communicate through words, how the words and sentences work for me and what the difference is between visual images and text. Working with text, especially text that other people are not familiar with, is really, really risky because people might just pay attention to the aesthetic beauty of it. I used Farsi text because it is my first language, therefore I have a deeper understanding of it in comparison to English. Through the process of my work, I analyze the words by deconstructing them, breaking them down into pieces, and then putting them on different supports. Sometimes the support is handmade paper made out of hundreds of pieces of scrap paper, sometimes it is the wall, sometimes it is a handmade book, or sometimes it is the printing block itself. For me using language is a form of research. 

“Exploring the sense of space and place through architectonic and linguistics structures” from Instagram

AC: Didaar is a Chicago-based Irainian arts collective. How has being a part of that community influenced your work?

YM: The aim of Didaar, meaning meet-up in Farsi, is to create communication and cooperation between Iranian artists and those active in the field of Iranian arts. Relying on the exchange of experience with and reflection on modern and contemporary art, Didaar’s goal is to help with professional development, both in art theory and practice, by promoting art-related discussion and criticism. On the last Sunday of each month, we have a lecture and discussion series. Currently, we have had four sessions in which we focused on the concept of trauma in contemporary art. We started to discover and explore this concept when the pandemic started in March. This series is continuing through November. You can find the details on Didaar’s website.

AC: Outside of the pandemic, what kind of work happens at Didaar? Is it a studio space? Is it more of an artist social space? 

YM: We started Didaar in my friend’s studio and from there, we started to critique the works of artists. After that, we started to grow and think about what we wanted to discuss and explore together. For instance, we talked about art and business, art and social media, along with many concepts and questions about contemporary art. We had a really big event last year in partnership with the MCA, in which we celebrated the life of a well known director, Abbas Kiarostami. For that event, we curated the work of Abbas Kiarostami’s students and screened three of his pieces. That was a really big milestone for our group. The MCA was really supportive of the Iranian community and we have started to work together more. Other than that, we create platforms for Iranian artists, like with our recent open call. We just finished accepting work with a focus on drawing and printmaking. We asked participants to submit their work and we challenged them to explore space, what space means for them, and how they explore that concept through two-dimensional techniques. The exhibition is going to be in April 2021, with a local gallery in Chicago, Oliva Gallery in West town. It was great to see the work of Iranian artists here in the United States, here in Chicago. This will be the first chapter of this exhibition and we’re going to have more chapters in the future. Another part of the work at Didaar is the discussion sessions we host on Instagram, which are in Farsi, interviews with the artists and curators, and so on and so forth. We also have a website, which has created a platform for art historians and people who want to write about art share their articles and ideas. 

AC: I think we got to everything. The only thing that I wanted to ask more about because of personal interest was your book series Seed Stories.

YM: Seed Stories was something I made at Spudnik during my residency. When I moved to Chicago, I lost the community I had in Texas. It felt like another immigration, but something that really helped me find myself was nature. It made me think about nature as a source of my work and I started to create the book series as a component of my exhibition Roots. The thing that influenced my decision to work with stories of life and death specifically was losing my grandmother. She was the person who taught me about traditional literature in Iran and she also had a really green thumb. In my Seed Stories series – one is an accordion book and the other one is made from kenaf and handmade paper – all of the images are related to the concept of origins, creation and the cycle of life and death. These works are really small, and I enjoyed making that space and the work was so intimate for me. Those very private and intimate moments are experienced by the audience as they pass through the pages and feel the tactility of the paper and the smell of the paper. It was a different way of creating space on a much more personal level. 

Seed Stories – made at Spudnik with kenaf and handmade paper

Copies of Yasaman’s accordion book Seed can be purchased through Spudnik for $10.00.

Keep up with Yasaman on Instagram @yasi_moussavi and check out her website. More information about events and discussions at Didaar Art Collective can be found on their website and on Instagram @didaarartcollective.

Join Our Board of Directors

The Spudnik Press Board of Directors is a team of volunteers working behind the scenes to ensure our organization is resilient, mission-driven, and advocating day-in-day-out for artists and the arts. Board Members provide long-range leadership, governance and oversight for the organization while spearheading individual donor fundraising efforts. Members of our board work collaboratively with each other, the Executive Director, and the staff of Spudnik Press to supports the mission of our organization, strategic plans, and what challenges arise during their tenure.

During this unprecedented time, the board has provided financial oversight, securing two loans to help the organization weather the pandemic, and helping with emergency fundraising plans. Priorities for the coming year focus on adapting our studio to accommodate capacity limitations and working closely with staff to ensure that the organization is accessible, diverse, inclusive, and equitable.

Board Members serve a two-year terms and are eligible for reappointment for additional terms. Full board meetings will be held every other month. Members are expected to serve on at least one committee, meeting approximately once per month.

Current areas of needs:

  • Active members of Spudnik Press: Represent your fellow artists!
  • Project management experience
  • Finance and accounting experience
  • Legal experience
  • Human resources experience
  • Gallery or art sales experience

Key Responsibilities Include:

  • Interpret the organization’s work and values, represent the organization, and act as a spokesperson
  • Stay informed about current programming
  • Attend and participate in Board and committee meetings with prompt attendance. Promote and attend a variety of public programs
  • Extend personal invitations to potential supporters, continually expanding our network of donors and clients
  • Represent Spudnik stakeholders through approving annual budget, business decisions and participating in an annual performance review of the Executive Director
  • Serve on a minimum of one committee.
  • Contribute a minimum of $375 to Spudnik per Board term (September – August). If this minimum is beyond a Board member’s capacity, they may agree to raise the equivalent amount from others, known as “Get,” in order to make the full annual contribution.
  • If needed, attend Legal & Fiduciary Responsibilities training upon joining the Board
  • Average time commitment: 8-12 hours per month

Key Benefits Include:

  • Opportunities for professional development as a board member.
  • Honorary Spudnik Press Membership, inclusive of all benefits, to align with their board terms.
  • Endless gratitude from Spudnik Press staff.

To Apply:

  • Send resume or bio summarizing qualifications plus a letter of inquiry to Angee Lennard, Executive Director, angee@spudnikpress.org.

This is a great opportunity for an individual who is passionate about Spudnik’s mission and visual arts. Priority will be given to applicants who are accomplished in areas of need to the organization such as finance, meeting facilitation, project management, governance, public relations, data assessment, fine art printmaking, community education, and exhibitions. Additionally, Spudnik Press Cooperative is committed to having a diverse board of directors in regards to race, ethnicity, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, and physical ability.

Facilities & Equipment Community Feedback Committee | Call for Participants

To help guide and support Spudnik Press Cooperative’s “Facilities & Equipment” goal in our 2019-2021 Strategic Plan, staff are seeking community members to share their experiences (good and bad) working within our physical studios and to contribute to a vision of a future Spudnik Press.

Volunteer Members: Participating in this committee will count towards your volunteer commitment!

Ideal Participants:

  • Have first-hand experience using Spudnik Press studios.
  • Are familiarity with one or more of our studio programs.
  • Have experience in a variety of printshop or educational settings.
  • Represent a balance of current or recent members, open studio participants, key holders, teaching artists, fellows, resident artists, and private studio renters.

Key Tasks / Time Commitment:

  • Thursday, July 9, 3-5pm: Participate in 2-hour community listening session (Via Zoom)
  • Mid July: Vote on facilities & equipment priorities (Online survey)
  • Wednesday, August 19, 6:00 p.m.: Attend our Annual Member meeting to share feedback on final facilities & equipment proposal (Via Zoom)

To Participate:

Email info@spudnikpress.org to sign up to participate. Participation is first come, first serve. However, staff will extend personal invitations as needed to ensure everyone who has a stake in our future studios has a voice at the table.

COVID-19 Studio Policies & Procedures

We kindly request that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, continue wearing masks when at Spudnik Press Cooperative.

Everyone using communal space must agree to our protocols by signing a COVID-19 waiver.

Our studio is committed to provide a comfortable and safe space for everyone. The following policies and protocols are in place to ensure a healthy environment, and will be updated regularly as city and state regulations evolve.

Capacity & Reservation Limits:

  • To ensure social distancing is feasible, there are capacity limits for the entire studio, as well as specific areas.
  • Everyone using communal space must be enrolled in a class or have reservations.
  • Private studio renters may work within their own studio at their own discretion, but must follow all our policies when in shared spaces.
  • The guillotines, typesetting/paper cutting area, and computer station are shared spaces that cannot be reserved.

Cleaning & Disinfecting:

  • We are relying on visitors to disinfect their work area for the next person. At the end your visit, disinfect all surfaces you come in contact with. EPA-approved disinfectant is readily available.
  • Everyone is expected to follow all CDC health and safety guidelines including frequent hand washing and/or the use of hand sanitizer.
  • staff also regularly disinfects all hard surfaces.
  • Hand sanitizer is available in each area of the studio.
  • 4 air purifiers are stationed throughout the studio.
  • When possible, doors and windows will be opened to increase ventilation.

PPE:

  • Masks are required to enter the building and while working in shared studios.
  • Masks may only temporarily be removed at the designation eating station. After use, this station must be thoroughly disinfected.

Stay Home If:

  • You have a cough, temperature higher than 100 degrees, loss of taste, shortness of breath, or other possible COVID-19 symptoms.
  • You have not maintained CDC health and safety guidelines.
  • You have been in close contact with or cared for someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is suspected to have COVID-19 within the last 14 days.

Reservation Details:

  • Be mindful of moving through the studio beyond the area you have reserved. To support social distancing, each area of the studio is stocked with basic tools.
  • We are temporarily waiving cancellation fees for people exhibiting any Covid-related symptoms who reach out either by 9am on the day of their reservation or with 4+ hours of notice.

Visitors are requested to self-report to staff if they are diagnosed with COVID-19 to allow Spudnik Press to take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of others.

In the case of a confirmed case of Covid-19 at the studio, Spudnik Press Cooperative will close for a minimum of 36 hours to allow for enhanced disinfection and ensure that the most current CDC guidelines are followed.

Staff, monitors and instructors reserve the right to remove anyone from the studio for failing to comply with safety requirements. Tuition or other studio fees will not be refunded in the event of dismissal for failing to follow safety rules.

Contact us with any questions regarding covid precautions within our studio by emailing info@spudnikpress.org.

Expanded Open Studio Program to Better Support Artists

Spudnik Press Cooperative is excited to announce a big change to our Open Studio Program. This program, which logs over 800 visits per year from artists and makers at all stages of their artistic journey, has largely remain unchanged since the studio’s inception in 2007.

After 13 years, the program will be dramatically expanded to provide eight Open Studio sessions per week. This will allow guests to reserve back-to-back sessions to accommodate 8-hour studio days. The additional sessions will also increase the capacity of the program while ensuring that guests have adequate work space and plenty of access to shared tools and equipment. With these changes comes a new simplified pricing structure.

This decision was based on community feedback that clarified the need for longer studio sessions and more flexible hours. This change also goes hand-in-hand with our new Studio Access Trainings which provide a more generous “on boarding process” that allows for more support and guidance from our staff.

Overview of Changes

  • Weekly Open Studio sessions increased from 4/week to 8/week
  • Ability to reserve a Single Session (4-hours) or Double Session (8-hours)
  • Simplified pricing: Material fee replaced with a $10 discount for “Dry Activities”
  • Increased member & student benefits: Increased from $7 to $10 discount
  • Will be phasing out hourly rental; Keyholder program remains available for access outside of Open Studio sessions.
  • Reservations are now required.

Updated Open Studio Sessions

Mondays & Thursdays:
2:00 – 6:00 p.m.
6:00 – 10:00 p.m.

Fridays & Saturdays:
10:00 – 2:00 p.m.
2:00 – 6:00 pm

Updated Fees

Single Session (4-hours): $35
Double Session (8-hours): $50

Available Discounts

Current Member or Student: $10 off
Dry Activities Only: $10 off

Discounts may be combined. For example, the cost for a current member who is typesetting or bookbinding will be $15 for a Single Session or $30 for Double Session.

Member Interview Series: Sean Mac

Sean Mac is a Chicago-based illustrator, cartoonist, and muralist. He uses comic books and zines as a platform for storytelling and narrative. His work uses loose linework and vibrant colors to tell humorous and intimate stories within each panel. In addition to self-publishing his comics his work includes screenprinting and public art. He graduated with a BFA in Illustration from Columbia College Chicago.

Sean Mac was interviewed by Andrew Mariscal as part of his Spring 2020 Internship at Spudnik Press Cooperative. Andrew is a printmaker and graphic designer pursuing his BA at Dominican University.


Andrew Mariscal (AM):What pushed you to the comic format?

Sean Mac (SM): Video games and geek culture got the ball rolling. Being a kid with a Nintendo 64 growing up, I played a bunch of Super Mario. That and Saturday morning cartoons were huge–you know, “Cartoon Network junkie”.

I would draw all the time. In middle school, I would make fan comics for the cartoon Teen Titans, but never considered it as a career path until I went to Columbia College and met teachers like Ivan Brunetti andChris Eliopoulos. They helped me realize that I could make a career in comics.

Another influence was Chicago cartoonist Jeremy Onsmith . He introduced me to the independent comic artist “Zine World”. I started by helping out at CAKE, an alternative comic festival. The first year I was just setting up tables, but I learned that a lot of the people selling there had a similar story to mine. It was just a community of artists making their own stuff and tabling it. I realized that I could do that too!

Comic covers (Yoga, Thief Brothers of Thif, Lizards Country, Buppy The Alien)

AM: What is your process when making a comic?

SM: My process can be all over the place. My comic Thief Brothers of Thif started off on a whim. I drew one page in my bed, not really planning on a story.  Eventually, I got into the habit of adding a page to it nightly, but that made for a chaotic way of creating a comic.

Others start differently, where I develop a storyline and try to follow it.Still,a lot of my work starts off as a random idea in my head. For example, my character Buppy started off as a pen drawing on a receipt and has since evolved into a series. That happens a lot.I’ll draw a little character or comic page and think, “this might make a cool story”.

Lately, I’ve been trying to start my comics with a clear idea of how they will end. This is especially important when working on large format comics, as finding a conclusion that doesn’t feel tooabrupt is always a challenge for me.

Lizard County (detail)

AM: Is there a particular reaction you want from your work?

SM: There are all sorts of reactions I’m going for. I create comics to work through ideas, make people laugh, smile or just have fun.

AM: Do you ever feel stuck when producing stories?

SM: I try not to believe in writer’s block. Sometimes it’s going to just suck for a bit. There are times where I try to chug through a story to see what happens. Other times I’ll feel like I lose motivation and need a break from drawing or anything artistic. Usually, sitting down and getting started is the hardest part because I may have no idea where the story is going. But after working at it for a few minutes I’ll start to feel like I can manage.

AM: How has risography been implemented into your work?

SM: Getting into risography has changed things for me. In the past, I’ve made comic books using companies like Overnight PrintsandI would get a comic book back that was super glossy or twice the size I originally intended. Through risography,I’m a part of the printing process and have full control over the final product.

Buppy The Cowpoke (detail)

AM: What role has animation played in your comic development?

SM: My animation work has developed through my interest in comics. Like with comics, I started off just having fun and making random gifs, but recently, I’ve been working on a storyboard for a project I want to pitch. This process has changed the way I format comics. I wanted to avoid a position where I would be drawing with no end in sight while facing a deadline. SoI outlined the project and listed important jokes and story points. After I finished, I realized how helpful writing and storyboards can be for developing my approach to animation and comics.

Doodle animation

AM: What do you do in your free time? How does that influence your art?

SM: Well, lately I haven’t had much free time, but my daily life does find its way into my stories.

The Buppy comic that I am currently working on presents him as a business man working in an office. While I don’t have a job that is anything like that, I have been in a more administrative position recently and that experience is reflected in the comic. I have also made many short Instagram comics with jokes based on past life events. Other than that, my free time is spent goofing off with friends and drawing.

AM: Tell me about your mural work.

SM: I did one mural at the Co-Prosperity Sphere, and one at Columbia a while back. But lately, my mural work comes from my position as a teaching artist with the company Green Star Movement. They do mosaic murals all around Chicago. This work has shaped the way I look at more “serious drawing” since a lot of their murals are of important figures of the community or of monuments. Drawing mural designs for the Green Star Movement required a more realistic style. At first, this felt completely outside my wheelhouse since I typically produce more cartoonyimagery, but the experience taught me a lot and was a very helpful exercise.

AM: Favorite artists?

SM: There are so many artists I look at. What I’ve been blown away by lately are Claymation artists on YouTube. For example, Lee Hardcastle does great work that captures a darker theme. I find the visual result of Claymation feels more “real” than a traditional animation. The style takes a lot of effort and the work individuals put into a finalized animation always blows me away.

AM: Due to the stay at home order, I followed up with Sean to see how his work and plans have changed since our first discussion. How has the recent stay at home order affected your work?

SM:  There have been a mix of effects due to the stay at home order. Some great, some bad.

First, the bad; I was planning on getting my master’s degree in the fall at either Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) or the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). SCAD is planning to have on campus classes, but that can change at any point. UCLA has yet to tell me if I’ve gotten into their art program and contacting someone for a response has been difficult. Overall, the fall semester is filled with uncertainty, which is frustrating to say the least.

Some great news is I’ve had a ton of time to work on my own art. I was able to finish a “Pitch Bible” (format to pitch an animation) that I poured a ton of time into. This project wouldn’t have been possible without all the extra free time. I submitted this Pitch Bible to a cartoon studio and will be having a video conference with them at the end of the month. I’m excited to see how this project will progress!

Yoga Comic (detail)


To keep up with Sean, follow @sugar.bro on Instagram!

Member Interview Series: Willa Goettling

Willa Goettling is an artist originally from Seattle, Washington. Willa moved to Chicago for three years to partake in the Columbia College Book and Paper MFA Program. During this time, Willa interned at Spudnik Press and worked at Spudnik briefly before moving to New York City.

Willa Goettling was interviewed by Ashley Houghton as part of her Spring 2020 Internship at Spudnik Press Cooperative. Ashley is a printmaker pursuing her MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Ashley Hougton (AH): What do you do in New York? 

Willa Goettling (WG): I am currently working at a paper making studio called Dieu Donne. They primarily work with artists in residence–some big names like Ann Hamilton and Richard Tuttle and some more up and coming artists. Dieu Donne was created by Susan Gozin who typically works with established artists without paper making experience to produce an edition. I’m the Education Coordinator for them, so I’m working on building up their programing, creating new classes and syllabi, training teachers, that kind of thing. 

Dieu Donne paper studio 

Dieu Donne paper studio

AH: What made you want to get into education?

WG: There is always room for learning. Teaching yourself new skills, teaching other artists new skills, and helping them expand their practice is something that is really exciting to me. I’m also really interested in accessibility and working in education outside of universities and colleges. Universities and colleges are expensive options for education and limit who feels accepted and welcome in those institutions. Working for a smaller organization, like Spudnik or Dieu Donne, that offer classes to the community on a workshop to workshop basis, is something that is really interesting and exciting to me. 

AH: How does the art scene in New York compare to the art scene in Chicago?

WG: When I was living in Chicago, there were so many small pockets of artists supporting each other and on a smaller scale. The DIY circuit and the smaller gallery circuit is really supportive and accessible for new artists in the city. Your entry into the Chicago arts scene may be quicker and less focused on credentials compared to a city like New York. In Chicago there is more room to operate on your own terms. In New York, there is so much competition. There are so many art institutions and artists that there is more focus on where you went to school, where you trained, and what galleries and museums you have shown at. New York artists are a little more focused on being “professional artists”. 

AH: What was your introduction to art?

WG: Ever since I was a little kid I identified as being a creative person. I don’t know if I would have called myself an artist, but creativity has been wrapped up with my identity for a long time. 

I didn’t study art in undergrad. I studied medical anthropology and global health. The reason is that, besides it being an interesting area of study, it was hard for me to justify going to school for art as a first generation college student coming from a working class family. I felt like art was something that I could always do on my own time, continue developing myself, and build a community around outside of school. I don’t know if I have any regrets towards that, but I definitely second guess it every once and awhile. The more I’m in the art world the more it feels like having both, an undergraduate and masters degree in the arts, means more opportunities are open to you. 

AH: What inspires your current art practice?

WG: I went to the book and paper MFA program at Columbia College because I have always been interested in communicating narrative through art. If I’m not reading or writing, putting a series of ideas into a book, or self publishing, I like to use printmaking to make multiples and have multiple pieces of art all be in communication with each other. I’m interested in art as a form of storytelling and a form of spreading information.

Recently I’ve been interested in looking at my own relationship to my body and the cultural, economic, and societal impacts that the body absorbs–especially the feminine body. Being someone who came from a working class background and has a bunch of laborers and craftspeople in my family, capitalism has definitely affected the way that we move throughout the world. We have developed a sense of self within a world that does not value labor or the people who have jobs that are heavy in manual labor.

Surface Tension Artist Book

Surface Tension Artist Book (Cover)

Surface Tension Artist Book (Detail)

Surface Tension Artist Book (Detail)

AH: Can you tell me more about capitalism and its impact on the body? 

WG: Capitalism is tied to systematic oppression of who has access to money, health, power and jobs and who doesn’t. Capitalism affects bodies very differently depending on race, class, sexuality, and ability. For me, I have a pretty disconnected relationship to my body because it’s so wrapped up in our access to health care and health care being a money making industry. As US citizens do not have equal access to health care, there is a huge disparity in who has time to address physical or mental health issues. The “American Dream” of being able to work your way up to another bracket feels like the carrot that is always being dangled in front of you. Depending on which economic class you are born into, the “American Dream” is extremely hard to actually achieve. Further, if you do make it out of your class bracket it’s at the expense of your body and your health. 

AH: In your bio you mention that you are “motivated by a desire to feel more connected to and in control of your body”. Are you motivated to explore that connection as a concept or does your art making process make you feel more connected to your body? 

WG: I think it’s a combination. When I was in grad school it was more theoretical and I explored the person-body relationship as a concept rather than actually developing a closer relationship to my body. Because grad school is so time consuming, I pushed off my relationship to my body in a lot of ways and denied my body just because there was so much else required of me. However, making art and using that time to reflect on the disconnect has become really valuable to me. 

Connective Tissue Artist Book 

Connective Tissue Artist Book

AH: What are you working on currently? 

WG: Currently I’m working on a project centered around handmade paper. This medium feels very holistic to me. I can grow and process my own fibers for paper making, and there is a huge variety with what I can do with those fibers after I turn it into pulp: I can work sculpturally, I can make two dimensional pieces, I can paint with the pulp, I can embed things into it, and so on. The project I’m currently working on is still in the idea phase. I want to work with my dad who is a stonemason and take some of his work clothes and turn them into pulp for papermaking. Then, I want to create casts of the stones he works with on a regular basis in the paper made from his clothes. The casts can pick up a lot of details. A lot of my process also has to do with focusing on the process itself and whatever is the end-all-be-all, or the product of the process, feels a little secondary to me. 

Surface Tension Installation

Surface Tension Installation

Sometimes the product is more directed if there is text that I want to put into a book. I have an idea of how I want that text to be laid out and what the book would look like. With something that is more of an installation or a group of objects, the process is a really big part of figuring out what the end product will look like. I like the idea of having some sort of document of my dad’s labor and turning that labor into something beautiful. 

AH: How has your work shifted since graduating from graduate school?

WG: Having just graduated from a graduate program and coming back to myself and my art practice outside of school, there are subtle shifts happening in my work. I’m trying to figure out what space my work makes the most sense in; if gallery spaces are best, or if I would rather stick to independent publishing and continue working in education at non-profits. Sometimes it’s harder to justify making work out of school, but I definitely believe in continuing to make art just as a way of better understanding the world. I think that is reason enough.

AH: Can you tell me about your experience as an intern at Spudnik? 

WG: I basically had no screen printing experience when I was at Spudnik but I did have some relief printmaking and etching experience. I got to work with Angee Lennard and Nicolette Ross to edition some artists’ prints. The most complicated and exciting of those projects was by Edie Fake. It was an 8 layer screen print and half of those layers were rainbow rolls, in which multiple colors are blended in one layer. As an introduction to screen printing I arguably started with the most complicated technique. I learned A LOT while I was there and I really loved Spudnik as a model. Being in New York I’ve realized there are no studios that offer open studio hours to the public for as cheap as Spudnik does and I think in that way Spudnik is extremely accessible. 

The Processing Department, Edie Fake (Published by Spudnik Press)

The Processing Department, Edie Fake (Published by Spudnik Press)

AH: When you’re not doing art what do you like to do for fun? 

WG: If I’m not making visual art or writing, I play music very casually. I play drums. I’m not playing in a band right now but that’s something that I like to do with friends. It keeps me socially accountable and it’s also just nice to get together with people and work on creative problem solving with others. I also like to read and have been watching a lot of Schitt’s Creek lately. 

AH: Willa’s artist book, Notes From My Body, is part of the Joan Flasch Artist Books Collection at the School of The Art Institute of Chicago, which is available for viewing by appointment.

2020 Studio Fellowship Program Expands to Support 6 Emerging Artists

Spudnik Press Cooperative is proud to introduce our next Studio Fellowship cohort, a group of six committed and talented emerging artists. Through the course of their fellowship, they will receive professional, artistic, and technical support that specifically addresses the needs of printmakers.

Established in 2013, this program to date has supported 49 artists with unfettered studio access to support the creation of a new body of print-based artwork, as well as a variety of other resources and opportunities. Through working in our shared studio and monitoring weekly Open Studio sessions, fellows engage with our community of printmakers and benefit from ongoing support and feedback from staff and peers.

With this cohort, we are increasing the number of artists this program serves. For the first time, we are bringing on six fellows instead of four. We feel that this is a small but essential way we can support our community. Now more than ever, artists need a reliable and communal space for artistic production.

At this time, we cannot physically invite these artists to our studios. While the many benefits of their fellowship are currently on hold, we remain honored to introduce these artists and look forward to scheduling their fellowship as soon as it is safe to do so.

Additionally, we would like to thank our outgoing studio fellows, Marc Benja, Efrat Hakimi, and Teresita Carson Valdéz for their inspirational art practices and their dedication to our Open Studio program. Once are studios are able to re-open, we look forward to the period of overlap between these two cohorts and nine artists.

Congratulations to our 2020 Studio Fellows:

Kelsey Gibson
Samantha Hensley
Dan Landgren
Griffin Miller
Osée Obaonrin
Robert Stokowy


Kelsey Gibson

Having been born and raised in St Augustine, the nation’s oldest city, there is no question as to why I’ve always found myself attracted to the antiquated and obsolete. I find myself significantly more intrigued by the past than with the future, and this notion is something that I explore with my art— not only through imagery but also by choosing manual printing as a means of production. I strive to educate and to preserve public history by studying and depicting the architecture, furnishings, and textile patterns of the past, however, I am particularly fascinated by the whimsical area in which the past and present visibly overlap.


Samantha Hensley

Sam Hensley is an printmaker, storyteller and sculptor from Kentucky. She mends together little storybooks for tales of endearing yet unsettling creatures of varying sentience. Nursing the emotion between disgust and affection for things that cannot be understood, she reflects her own experiences with mental illness, gender identity, and just feeling misshapen in your habitat. The telling of these stories is further aided by animatronic puppets that she constructs as vessels for her tragically friendly beings. She recently received her BFA from the university of Kentucky.


Dan Landgren

Dan Landgren is a motion and graphic designer based in Chicago.

“I graduated from DePaul University with a BFA in Graphic Design and a minor in Animation. As a multi-disciplinary designer, artist, and printmaker I have experience in 2D/3D animation, UX/UI design, videography + photography, bookmaking, screen printing, and risography. The driving force behind my work is experimentation and learning.”


Griffin Miller

Griffin Miller makes work under the online persona plant_boi.

“My work is primarily a formal experiment in shape, architecture and interaction of objects.  Through this lens I have developed an interest in certain objects as visual means of communication; specifically: vessels, entryways, circles and their disruptions, repeating patterns and faces.  I find these designs, successful and unsuccessful, to serve as a basis for my own logical and functional limitations when drawing.”


Osée Obaonrin

Osee Obaonrin is a writer and fiber artist originally from the Republic of Benin, who grew up in the Maryland/DC area and currently resides in Chicago, IL. Obaonrin focuses primarily on documentation. Documenting self. The feelings of grief and acts of mourning as a means of reflection and also as a means of actually performing the processes of grief and mourning. She attempts to reconcile with the losses that have opened her to grief, the pain that has come along with it and perhaps find hope as a means of resistance.


Robert Stokowy

Robert Stokowy is an artist and composer from Cologne, Germany. His work consists of experimental compositions, text-based interventions, performances and installations. More conceptual works utilize artistic practices such as photography, writing, printmaking and drawing. All projects are framed and connected by an overarching artistic research process, focussing on inner structural characteristics of found or created sonic environments. Using a radically reductive and interdisciplinary approach, Robert’s work investigate modes and possibilities of sonic accessibility. In short art is used as an interdisciplinary tool to understand one’s environment and the human condition.

Image: Clockwise from top left: Details of artwork by Kelsey GibsonSamantha HensleyDan LandgrenGriffin MillerOsée ObaonrinRobert Stokowy

Public Safety First: Spudnik pausing all public programming to reduce the spread of COVID-19

To all in our community,

The health, wellbeing, and safety of our community and the broader communities in which we live are our highest priorities. With public safety in mind, we are taking proactive steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by pausing all public programming effective immediately.

Our decision is in accordance with global health authorities to keep our staff and community safe from what experts, including the World Health Organization, are calling a “global pandemic.”

We are taking the following steps to minimize all non-essential gatherings as well as the use of mass transit to and from our studio: 

  • Open Studios are cancelled until further notice
  • Group Classes are postponed until further notice
  • The following events are postponed at this time:
    • March 18: Volunteer Session
    • March 24: Queer Materialism dialogue
    • March 25: Study Session
  • All other events in April and beyond may be cancelled or postponed based on developing recommendations of healthcare experts such as the CDC
  • If you are enrolled in a one-on-one private lesson or the March 15th Portfolio Review, you will receive additional correspondence regarding your registration. In the case that both parties are comfortable meeting one-on-one, the studio will be accessible.

How to Use The Studio:

  • At this point in time, keyholders without symptoms are welcome to continue using the studio
  • At this point in time, staff will try to accommodate other reasonable requests to gain studio access, always prioritizing the health and wellbeing of our entire community.

For those who do plan to use or visit our studio:

  • As of today we have cleaned and disinfected surfaces and equipment to the best that we are able.
  • Hand sanitizer is available for people to use in the studio. If you do choose to use the studio, we ask that you wash your hands on entering and exiting the space, and use the hand sanitizer provided. 
  • Unless you have keyholder access, please call ahead of your visit to ensure the studio is staffed.

We understand that this message will not answer all of the questions that our community may have about these decisions, and that we will need to follow up soon with students in greater detail regarding rescheduling and/or refunding program fees. 

These are unprecedented circumstances; staff is committed to staying up to date with all developments, and doing all we can to keep our community informed of our plans. 

Sincerely,

Spudnik Press Cooperative Staff & Board of Directors

 

Update Regarding COVID-19

We want to share a brief update on the status of Spudnik Press Cooperative programming and events in light of the COVID-19 outbreak in Illinois. With the wellbeing of our staff and program attendees in mind, Spudnik Press Cooperative staff are actively discussing the next steps in case of a larger outbreak in the Chicago area.

We are monitoring and basing our decisions on their recommendations of the following resources. We encourage our community stay informed as well:

For now, all our classes and events will continue as planned, and we will send updates via email to our community if any plans change. We understand that our members, students, and guests have their own protocols and concerns regarding safety, and ask that if you do plan to cancel attendance, please do so as soon as possible.

We further ask you not to visit our studio if you are feeling ill, and have symptoms such as a fever, fatigue, or consistent cough. We also ask all visitors to rigorously wash their hands upon joining us for an event and taking other precautions such as coughing into one’s elbow and refraining from physical contact with fellow attendees.Lastly, we ask our community to practice kindness during this time, as these events are no excuse for xenophobia.

Thank you for your continued support of Spudnik Press Cooperative.

New Studio Authorization Process

On April 1, 2020, a new authorization process will be rolled out for artists who are new to our studio and already have satisfactory knowledge of their craft.

Anyone who would like to become authorized to print at Spudnik Press or use our studio will need to complete a Studio Access Training led by staff. These sessions ensure that all makers are proficient and confident using the equipment in our studios and following our specific procedures and guidelines.

These sessions are not lessons: they are for makers who already are comfortable printing or working independently.

Why the change?

  1. It’s hard to start working at a new studio! Our newest printers deserve more support and guidance from our staff.
  2. Over 1,200 people a year make art here! This new authorization process will help us keep our studio clean and cohesive.
  3. Spudnik Press is a shared space! Sharing space and resources requires mutual investment from everyone involved. Studio training sessions are a way for staff to really engage with the print community and vice versa. We hope the time spent working side by side in the studio will lead to everyone feeling more comfortable in our studios and invested in making our space the best it can be for everyone.

What you can expect:

  • Small group setting
  • 90-minute to 3-hour session
  • Overview of the ways artists can print independently at Spudnik Press
  • Details regarding rules, regulations, and best practices specific to Spudnik Press
  • A focus on personal safety, care and maintenance of tools and supplies
  • A combination of discussions, demos, and hands-on projects
  • Opportunity to ask technical questions and brush up on techniques
  • Complimentary Open Studio coupon valued at up to $25

To help ensure that our studio is accessible to all, in addition to private trainings, we welcome additional requests for reasonable accommodations to support those with various learning styles, physical abilities, and financial limitations. 

Studio Access Training Details