Make Ready for the Revolution
“You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time.”—Angela Davis
“Makeready” is the technical term for the process of readying your press for printing. Letterpress printing instructions caution novice printers not to forget the all-important makeready before rushing into a print job. The term inspired the title Make Ready for the Revolution, an online exhibition hosted by Zygote Press this fall that asks letterpress artists to ready their presses for revolutions, uprisings, and upheavals big and small—whether that means reaching back into history, engaging with the present, or imagining more just futures.
The original exhibition was scheduled to be a part of the 2020 Mid America Print Council conference at Kent State University, which has been postponed until fall 2022 due to COVID-19. Curated by letterpress printers Wendy Partridge, Erin Adair, and Bob Kelemen, the show will be presented online October 1 to November 13.
Ben Blount, one of the artists in the show, is a Detroit-born graphic designer and letterpress printer. His work explores questions of race and identity and the stories we tell ourselves about living in America. A believer in the power of the printed word, Blount aims to create work that has impact beyond the printed page.
Some of the wood and metal type posters he made in commemoration of Juneteenth will be included in the exhibition. Juneteenth, held on June 19 annually, commemorates the emancipation of enslaved people in the US. As Blount explains, “I think that this holiday is particularly poignant now as people across the country in support of the Black Lives Matter movement are reminding US citizens that Black people are indeed free and should be treated as equals.” Blount’s hand-set Juneteenth letterpress posters are powerful messages of protest: With their stark block letters they urge the viewer to action—“KNEES OFF OUR NECKS”, “STOP KILLING BLACK PEOPLE”, and included on each, “We Can No Longer Wait.”
As Blount’s work demonstrates, letterpress printing, with its history of democratizing the written word and its ease of reproduction, is the perfect vehicle for the expression of social justice values. The exhibition Make Ready for the Revolution will explore how letterpress artists use the medium as a tool for political activism and resistance, at a time when the world is screaming for change.
MAKE READY FOR THE REVOLUTION: LETTERPRESS GROUP ONLINE EXHIBITION | OCTOBER 1-NOVEMBER 13
via Mid America Print Council conference (MAPC) Letterpress KSU School of Visual Communication Design
NO(WHERE): CURATOR MATTHEW ROWE | OCTOBER 9-31
OPENING RECEPTION 6-8PM FRIDAY, OCTOBER 9
CURATOR TALK 6:30PM FRIDAY, OCTOBER 9
1410 East 30th Street
Cleveland, Ohio 44114