The artist foremost is a visual communicator. In this fledgling market of art commerce the artist must consider the boundary of self and the purpose of making quality readable imagery. If we learned anything from the Art Nouveau Period it was that art needs to interact beyond the level of kitsch, also that quality is a necessary part of any artistic process..
My latest mission has been to create a community print center in Savannah, Georgia. In spending time developing Cobblestone Print Center and Studio I began to evaluate the purpose of the center and how will it serve artists in the community. Will it be a place for artists to exhibit their work? Will it be a place to exchange ideas? Will it be a shop where tourists come to see and buy art? I initially thought making prints more available to the public would be the ultimate purpose of the center. I now realize that it is far more important to be a place where artists printmakers come to exchange ideas on how to become more skilled in the process of printing and ultimately image making.
As I talked with artists and shared ideas about the desired outcome of Cobblestone, art as commodity versus art as communicator took over the discussion. My desire to serve the artist in his quest to communicate visually makes it important that Cobblestone be a safe place to produce images. I make a clear effort to reference the center as a studio rather than a shop. Hours will be centered around the artists production times, so me may be open later at night.
This week Cobblestone got the press to function, and I was able to pull my first print. I was over joyed at the difference in quality between a brayer burnished print and the press pulled image. Needless to say I was over joyed, I had forgotten the feeling of making good work and producing art. I immediately decided that this is about making not what I already know about the media or process but definitively about what I can still learn in order to share and grow. Truly that is why I studied art to grow and learn, to get better and ultimately to share.
When I was starting the path to becoming an artist and I had my large portfolio in the streets of Philly many people explained that it just wasn't a lucrative career. I was told to try something that would put food on the table then I met artists who were in the throes of making serious work. A ceramic artist named Syd Carpenter, young African American and a rarity in her field took my hand, I was about 16 at the time, she said, “You have to remember, it is really about the work.”