Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Pressing forward: Kathy Kuehn and community

Students gather in Hudson Hall to watch Kathy Kuehn’s Presentation.

 

By Cinara Marquis

From works on nature to individuality and activism Kathy Kuehn, printmaker has been forging community through collaboration her whole career.

On March 26 she gave a presentation on her work at SUNY Plattsburgh. She is the second presenter of the spring semester’s Visual Artist Series, where artists from all media give public lectures, workshops, demos and critiques.

Funded through the Campus Arts Council, the Visual Artist Series typically hosts seven to nine artists every year on campus. It is a collaborative effort organized and hosted by students and faculty.

Kuehn is a printmaker and book artist who has spent much of her career in collaboration with educators, artists, printers, printmakers, authors and poets. She earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees in art in her home state at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“As an undergraduate, I fell in love with letterpress printing and all the steps that go into making limited edition handmade books,” Kuehn said. “Making books allowed me to explore page layouts, book structures and bindings. Making books by hand takes time, and with each step the book tells you how to proceed.”

Kuehn and her artist peers would sell their books through book dealers and at book fairs. She was later employed by her professors to work alongside them on books published by artist, printer and poet Walter Hamedy.

After 10 years in Madison, Wisconsin she moved to New York City and worked with paper maker Joe Wilbur. The studio space would later become Pace Prints, a collaborative printing house that Kuehn worked in for nearly 20 years.

Pace Prints publishes limited edition prints with artists based in New York City.

“Each project is unique with the artists often asked on the printers to undertake something they have never done before,” Kuehn said. “The collaboration can be exhilarating, and often a communal brain is at work.”

She moved to Portland, Oregon in 2014 and continues to print for Jim Dine, an artist, printmaker and poet. They collaborate on projects like making botanical prints to accompany his poetry, a complex multifaceted project which included 1,080 prints.

“The project was a nail biter,” Kuehn said.

Another complex project was one with Marie Watt where 100 local community college students made rubbings or sewed or sewed letters and designs onto cardstock paper. Using pressure printing, she connected them all together.

“The composite highlights the individual voice of each artist that becomes a record of a specific communal activity,” Kuehn said.

She has recently found herself shifting focus to the community.

“Equity in the art market is improving, and I am grateful to see this change in my lifetime. I find myself prioritizing that movement,” Kuehn said.

She has always had a love for printing and adores seeing works fresh off the press. “It leaves the hand of the printer and goes into the hands of others– it has the power to gather and to form its own community.” Kuehn said.

Now when Kuehn prints she thinks about who will be seeing her work and what connections it will build.

“I feel as though I can now express things that I am uncertain how to express but that I have always known and I have always felt deeply,” Kuehn said.

 

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