Letterpress Studio and the Winter Program 2017

December 05, 2016

The Outreach Winter Program is an interdisciplinary class where students collaborate in the construction of what, at different times, has become an artist book of prints, a zine, or animated shorts. While the subject and format of the projects change from year to year, the common denominator is the printing presses at Cooper Union’s Letterpress Studio. This facility is equipped with four SP15 (Simple Precision) Vandercook presses that easily allow for large edition printing, and that combine rich ink saturation and a tactile quality on the paper. 

Students work in small groups to collaborate on a concept and visualization. This is an opportunity to work towards a common goal, opening the single students point of view to include that of others, which proves to be a challenge for an otherwise very individual practice of self-expression. It takes a great effort to interpret and respond to the infinitely varied and complex issues that arise from our daily encounters with nature, with the city, and its inhabitants. What is at stake is not for students to simply make beautiful works of art, but to learn to point those visual skills in a clear direction. 

The 2017 Winter Program will travel to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden to look at the underlying issues that occur in its green house conservatory. In these temperature-controlled environments, we will question notions around collecting, nomenclature, and the picturesque. In an attempt to replicate nature, the garden organizes what is seen and how it is seen, for the consumption of its visitors.  As we capture an already displaced flora with a camera, we post it online, enlarge it, crop it, give it a hash tag, and so on. Our task will be to take a step away from this chain of motivations, to objectively reclaim our place in it through drawing, photography and writing. Students will use the format of an accordion book to create a visual experience layered by relief printing, photography and writing. In turn, everyone will leave with a limited edition artist book encompassing their own work and that of their peers. 

Written by Pablo Diaz, who will be teaching letterpress. Amy Buckley will be the photography instructor, and Alex Velozo will poetry and drawing. We thank our special partnership with Ava Smile’s for making the poetry component possible.

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.