Feb 21, 2019
Virginia Humanities

Announcing a Series of Public and Partnership Programs, Printmaking Workshops, and Exhibitions in Charlottesville with Visiting Printmaker Amos Paul Kennedy Jr.

Virginia Humanities’ Virginia Center for the Book announces a collaborative public art project for the Charlottesville-Albemarle community titled “Finding Wisdom” with Detroit-based printmaker Amos Paul Kennedy Jr. The Center’s inaugural Frank Riccio Artist in Residence, Kennedy will visit Charlottesville March 9-26, 2019 to participate in public printmaking events, hands-on workshops with partnering schools and nonprofits, and exhibitions in more than twenty public locations.

Finding Wisdom includes the creation of nearly 10,000 bold and colorful posters letterpress-printed by Kennedy and community members featuring sayings, quotes, and aphorisms submitted by central Virginia residents. The posters will be exhibited in March 2019 in dozens of locations ranging from coffee shops to City Hall, from schools to storefront windows, from Fashion Square Mall to the historic downtown mall, and from grocery stores to world heritage sites.

Quotes were collected by Virginia Humanities beginning in December 2018 from public school students and teachers, area nonprofits including the Boys and Girls Club of Central Virginia and Monticello’s Getting Word Oral History Project, and the general public. The selection of featured quotes and creation of posters by Kennedy began in January 2019 and will continue leading up to and throughout his visit.

Regional printmakers are invited to participate by signing up to print an edition of 60 posters for the project on VaBookCenter.org/finding-wisdom/. Community members and UVA students interested in helping to install exhibitions March 4-9 should contact Tia Nichols.

Community members can participate in the residency free of charge by viewing exhibitions, attending events with Kennedy, and registering for letterpress printmaking workshops at the Virginia Center for the Book. A family-friendly scavenger hunt will be organized around the exhibitions and announced March 9.

Public events with Kennedy at libraries, galleries, and other locations will offer community members the chance to make their own posters to take home. Kennedy will also hold printmaking workshops at more than a dozen public schools and several area nonprofits. The residency will culminate during the Center’s 25th annual Virginia Festival of the Book with a printmaking demo and artist talk on Sunday, March 24 from 12-2:30 PM at the Virginia Center for the Book in the Jefferson School.

A detailed schedule of additional residency events with workshop registration links will be announced by Virginia Humanities and available on VaBookCenter.org/finding-wisdom/ by March 1.

Kennedy’s visit has been shaped by Virginia Humanities in collaboration with Kennedy himself; UVA student liaison and project coordinator Tia Nichols; member artists of Virginia Center for the Book; and community partners from Albemarle County and Charlottesville Public Schools, Boys & Girls Club of Central Virginia, Jefferson Madison Regional Libraries, Light House Studio, Monticello’s Getting Word Oral History Project, New City Arts Initiative, The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative, UVA’s McIntire Department of Art and Office of the Vice Provost for the Arts, and others.

The Finding Wisdom project and Kennedy’s residency visits are generously funded by the University of Virginia’s Executive Vice President & Provost’s Office.

About Amos Paul Kennedy Jr.

Kennedy is a self-proclaimed “humble Negro printer” whose letterpress work represents the messages and identities of African-Americans whose “words… have largely been excluded from ‘fine print.’” He uses traditional letterpress techniques to create richly colored, hand-pulled prints that often incorporate messages and aphorisms that spur conversation about race and class. Through his fine, layered printing of simple text using traditional letterpress technique, Kennedy’s work encourages reflection on historical and current African-American identities and overlap between the struggles of the Civil Rights movement and contemporary needs for bold action to pursue social justice.

He received a BA in Mathematics from Grambling State University and his MFA in Graphic Design from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Recent awards include a Joyce Award (2016–17) and the United States Artists Glasgow Fellowship (2015). Kennedy was also the premier featured artist at the Virginia Commonwealth University’s Institute for Contemporary Art, exhibiting work from collaborations with local black-owned businesses. To learn more and see examples of the artist’s work, visit KennedyPrints.com.

About the Frank Riccio Artist-in-Residency

The Virginia Center for the Book (the Center) hosts a community book arts studio in Charlottesville’s historic Jefferson School City Center, featuring the state’s largest public collection of letterpress type, binding equipment, and more than fifty member-artists creating works of book art and printed ephemera. In 2018, the Center began raising funds for the Riccio Artist-in-Residency to honor the memory of artist and Center co-founder Frank Riccio, recognize his legacy as a talented and tireless practitioner and educator among Virginia’s creative community, and build upon his loyal and generous support for the work of book artists who bring to life the Center. Through the annual Residency, the Center will host one book artist, printmaker, or illustrator each year to partner with local organizations to create a collaborative community project. Additional details about the Artist-in-Residency will be announced in 2019, when the Center hosts Amos Paul Kennedy Jr. for the Residency’s inaugural collaborative public art project.

About the Virginia Center for the Book

A program of the Virginia Humanities, the Virginia Center for the Book works across the Commonwealth to unite communities of readers, writers, artists, and book lovers. Through year-round programs and partnership initiatives, the Center recognizes the enduring power of literature, storytelling, and the book arts to engage in public dialogue and promote intercultural understanding. As an affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, the Center works within a network of affiliates to promote books, reading, literacy, and the literary life of Virginia. To learn more, visit VaBookCenter.org.

About Virginia Humanities

Virginia Humanities connects people and ideas to explore the human experience and inspire cultural engagement. As the state humanities council, Virginia Humanities reaches millions in its estimated annual audience through festivals, grants, fellowships, digital initiatives, teacher institutes, radio programs, podcasts, apprenticeships, and school programs. Headquartered at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia Humanities endeavors to serve Virginians in every corner of the Commonwealth. To learn more, visit VirginiaHumanities.org.