Print is not dead, and a redesign by Fine Arts students and featured artist Samuel Levi Jones at The Studio Museum in Harlem on March 29 will help keep it alive. The Fine Arts department’s Urban Studio club members assisted Jones in a “Studio Squared” workshop devoted to paper, pulping and bookbinding. The artist’s work, currently on display, is known for its “deconstruction and manipulating” of texts in order to explore “systems of knowledge and power.” There was plenty of artistic knowledge on hand for the workshop, which attracted 48 participants.
Printmaking technician, Slavko Djuric and Fine Arts Urban Studio club president and printmaker, AJ Springer, along with Fine Arts alums Danielle Yalon and Cassandra Holden, demonstrated various book binding techniques at stations set up for participants.
“One was a paper pulping section where you could blend down sheets of paper and set it to make your own piece,” says Springer. “Another was a sewing station, to stitch creations back together after disassembling them. The third was for bookbinding, where I and others helped to create new pieces. ”
It was a “learning and sharing of skills and personalized techniques,” said Nico Wheadon, public programs manager at the museum. “FIT students were crucial in delivering a holistic understanding of the many approaches to reconstructing the paper source materials that Mr. Jones guided us in deconstructing.”
Other Urban Studio members participated: Stephanie Castillo, Amanda Ioco, Wilfred Laureta, Alexus Parker, Samantha Treco, Lobsang Tsewang Eddy Valerio and Dina Volpe.
“Sam’s (Levi Jones) work focuses on unbinding preexisting, mainly law books, and deconstructing them,” says AJ Springer. “He uses the covers and papers inside to collage with. He explained that his work is meant to challenge the structure of authority, language, and social connotations. By deconstructing these elements, he finds ways to compose them back together. ”
Participants were asked to bring paper materials that had a personal significance and to “examine their attachments” to them. One participant brought in wedding invitations from his first marriage, “said Wheadon. His interest was to “erase their iconic signifiers and repurpose this personal record into an altogether new narrative.”
This was the first Studio Squared workshop in which the exhibiting artist led the workshop. Techniques that were explored included Japanese stab binding, sewn bindings, and various types of both hard and soft cover techniques.
“Assisting Sam and helping people make things that were completely foreign to their art process was very inspiring for my own work as well!” said Springer, who is currently preparing for her senior thesis.
Photos by: Nico Wheadon/The Studio Museum in Harlem