Claes Jansz Visscher, Remonstrant Exodus, 1619. Etching and letterpress on laid paper, 14 x 11.5 in. Museum purchase through the Robert and Sonia Carringer Art Acquisitions Fund. 2017-25-1.
Artist, designer, and letterpress printer Ben Blount in his workshop. Courtesy Ben Blount.

The grant will support Fake News and Lying Pictures: Political Prints in the Dutch Republic, a broadside workshop for students, scholars, and the general public at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, coinciding with an exhibition of the same name. The program will connect early modern printmaking to the present day and encourage appreciation for its continuing legacy and relevance.

Fake News and Lying Pictures will feature an in-gallery conversation with artists addressing issues such as race, gender, and sexuality, followed by demonstrations of printing and papermaking techniques. According to the organizers, the event will “provide a vitally important opportunity for creative voices [of marginalized communities] to be heard as well as for new audiences to be introduced to the medium of printmaking” and allow audiences to “learn about the historical, technical, and contemporary aspects of political printmakers and traditional papermaking methods.”

The one-day workshop will begin with a discussion by artists Blount, Lingscheit, and Montgomery about their work and how it connects to historical broadsides. Afterwards, the artists will collaboratively design a broadside using letterpress and relief processes, which will then be printed by student members of the Noble Print Club, a campus printmaking collaborative, and distributed to attendees. The day will conclude with a papermaking demonstration at Fresh Press Agri-Fiber Paper Lab focused on sustainable production.

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About the Workshop

Broadsides were a powerful form of political expression in early modern Europe. To create them, publishers printed a title, image, and explanatory text on one side of paper, which could be posted on buildings or used to decorate homes or taverns. KAM’s 2022 exhibition Fake News and Lying Pictures: Political Prints in the Dutch Republic  (Aug 25—Dec 17, 2022) will feature several broadsides, such as the Remonstrant Exodus by Amsterdam printmaker Claes Jansz Visscher (above). 

This broadside mocks Remonstrants: a religious sect that clashed with the more orthodox Calvinists in the Dutch Reformed Church. Remonstrants voluntarily went into exile in 1619 after refusing to renounce their faith.  Today, Visscher is better known for his beautiful and groundbreaking landscape ‘art’ prints and maps, but he was also a major innovator in the field of political printmaking.

Printmaking remains an important means of political communication today. In Fall 2022, a daylong workshop will explore the political dimension of work by three contemporary graphic artists: Ben Blount, Emmy Lingscheit, and Guen Montgomery. The three artists will discuss the political dimensions of their prints and letterpress, which speak to issues of race, gender and sexuality, and environmental degradation. 

The three will collaborate to produce a broadside that will be printed in a live demonstration by members of the Noble Print Club (the campus printmaking collaborative) using one of the Noble Print Lab’s Vandercook letterpresses. The broadside will incorporate letterpress by Blount and a relief print by Lingscheit, Associate Professor of Printmaking, and Montgomery, Teaching Assistant Professor. Attendees will receive a gratis impression after the demonstration. 

Finally, workshop attendees will have the opportunity to visit Fresh Press Agri-Fiber Paper Lab for a paper making demonstration. Eric Benson, the program’s developer and Associate Professor of Graphic Design, will speak about the studio’s groundbreaking research into making artisanal paper from seasonal agricultural fibers that are collected from the university’s Sustainable Student Farm.