This project spanned over two years from the first run of prints to the installation of the work. A quarantine on one end bracketed by a hurricane on the other, notwithstanding, the opening talk with Amos Paul Kennedy Jr. was well attended at IPC Art Space, hosted by Carl Juste. Our gallery opening two days later presented by Marie Vickles, Little Haiti Cultural Center exhibition curator also brought out print lovers, friends, family, and those who were willing to brave the weather.
Truly this project brought everyone together: From volunteer installers, community sourced quotes and aphorisms, professors and students and translators. Each group of community members finally arriving to ruminate upon the words floating on top of thousands of prints on chip board. The layers beneath that letterpress printed wood type black revealed the evolution of a simple community project to a documentation a world that locked down and changed forever.
In the beginning the King owned the press.
He used the people to spread his law through
printing and proclamations. Before long, the people
got their hands on those presses…Amos Paul Kennedy Jr.
Raise Your Voice morphed through at least
three grant proposals before it was finally funded by an Oolite
Arts Ellies Creator Award in 2019. Essentially it was a project
that allowed me to print 2500 prints and give them away
to new friends in Little Haiti. It almost worked, just like that.
I printed a few hundred postcards and
distributed them around the neighborhood, to friends, artists,
students, and neighbors. People were asked to fill the postcards
out with a favorite quote, aphorism, or saying (or something
like that), and bring them/send them to Extra Virgin Press.
Ultimately over seventy sayings were gathered and printed.
The printing started in earnest when a pallet of chip board was
delivered to Beach High. 2500 sheets is a lot of paper, it took a
few trips just to bring it to the shop and stack it up. The first layers
on each sheet filled up with shapes, numbers, pictures and letters
that began to tell the story about my neighborhood. I even had
helpers for two weeks almost every afternoon, Max and Bailey.
The first of four or five layers on each print,
were generic references to neighborhoods around the shop, and
where I live… Zip codes, area codes, names of cities, names of
neighborhoods, Liberty City, Overtown, Little Haiti, Lemon
City, Opa Locka, West Grove, Brownsville, Carol City, Model
City, 313, 786, 305, 33125, 33147, 33136, 33127, 33137, 33054,
33133, 33142, 33055, 33150, languages too, Spanish, Haitian
Creole, English, French, plus Big Foot, circles, squares, triangles,
wood grain, cartoon characters, family roles, Mom, Grandma,
Abuela, Tia, Manman, native plants, words that filled up
the space on the bottom layers, and identified the glue that held
the neighborhood together. Go, go, go. Super,
super, super, got printed on the run up to the
Super Bowl. The Statue of Liberty showed
up. A lot of sheets and a lot of under-story…
Amos Paul Kennedy Jr. This
story would never be complete without Amos.
I met Amos on the recommendation of Lynne
Avadenka of Signal Return, who gave me his
phone number and address, which was a short
drive from her shop. Having driven from Miami
to Detroit already, that seemed to be reasonable.
I knew his work from John Cutrone
Director of the Jaffe Center for Book Arts
in Boca Raton who had shown a number of
his prints. Amos welcomed me to his studio,
gave me a brief history of printing, along with:
Posters, ink, and a long list of vendors, museums,
and presses that would enhance my education
in printing. That generous stream of information
became a river of support that runs
between us and many other printers to this day.
Since I was going to be in
Minnesota for a residency, and Amos was
printing at Minnesota Center for Book Arts
in July, I volunteered to give him a hand.
Amos walked me to a small room in the basement,
to a pallet of chip board four feet tall,
holding 6500 sheets. He and I, (and over a
dozen Minnesota printers I had met during
several earlier trips), filled a room of tables,
three tables wide, a couple feet high. Those
posters ultimately wallpapered the inside
of MCBA, floor to ceiling for their MCBA
Book Biennial. Amos was the keynote speaker.
As Amos Kennedy
prepared to give a talk at Little Haiti
Cultural Center, Covid 19 shut down
schools, institutions, and flights. Layers
of type in the prints that I printed ultimately
recorded events and voices out of
that time in our world. I printed alone
in my studio until June 2020. Raise
Your Voice has lived in several boxes
at Extra Virgin Press since that time.
Little Haiti Cultural Center will exhibit Raise Your
Voice. Printers print.