Journey’s End and PRINTING PARTNERS Virtual Collaboration
In this hands-on program led by Teaching Artist Ruby Merritt and assisted by Book Arts Programs Assistant Demyia Browning, learners engaged with the book arts to build their creative confidence and artistic skills, investigating basic to advanced forms of book & printmaking techniques, all while given the opportunity to work with specialty artist materials to create thoughtful, unique works of art.
This spring we partnered with Journey’s End: a community based organization that provides refugees with the resources and support they need to become successful, active, and contributing members of the Western New York Community.
Journey’s End Refugee Services would like to extend its most sincere gratitude to Western New York Book Arts Center for another year of remarkable extracurricular art class projects and offerings. Our students are always very excited to be working with Ruby and the WNY Book Arts team. The Book Arts classes give our students a much needed opportunity to be creative, to socialize and to find enjoyment with the hand’s on art projects. We believe these wonderful classes provide students with a great opportunity to decompress, find relaxation and express their artistic and creative insight and aptitude. Many of our clients, especially the newly arrived, may feel a sense of isolation as the adjust to their new community, even more so during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. These classes are an invaluable resource to our clients in fostering a sense of community, as well as encouraging and supporting participation in the arts. The instruction by [Book Arts teaching artist] Ruby Merritt is of the highest caliber, and participants were all given beautiful box sets of all needed materials. Our sincere thanks to the whole Book Arts team and all their hard work on behalf of our students this year.
Throughout time, art has been used as a way to express the human condition, push boundaries, and build the foundation for stronger communities. Creativity is universal. It transcends linguistic boundaries, and fostering that creativity brings forth a sense of togetherness. With the addition of modern technology, art is more accessible than ever and continues to bring together people of varying backgrounds, but now in the comfort of their own homes.
The 2022 Journey’s End PRINTING PARTNERS session worked so well, because students never lost their creatively curious spark, despite having to navigate a new, digital setting.
For the first two weeks, students learned the basics of origami: the art of paper folding. With newfound techniques and vibrantly colored materials, students made collapsible Origami Dragon Chain books and Origami Flag Books, a project where we encouraged individuals to recreate flags from their home countries, by providing blank papers for them to draw upon in order to help tell the story of each individual artist.
Pictured: teaching artist Ruby Merritt showing off her completed dragon chain book.
For the first two weeks, students learned the basics of origami: the art of paperfolding. With newfound techniques and vibrantly colored materials, students made collapsible Origami Dragon Chain books and Origami Flag Books, a project where we encouraged individuals to recreate flags from their home countries, by providing blank papers for them to draw upon in order to help tell the story of each individual artist.
Pictured: three students showing off their pieces, while Ruby and Demyia admire the art work via Zoom.
For weeks three and four, we created Hardcover Accordion Books. These books resemble very closely the types of books we are used to seeing, but instead of having pages that turn one by one, inside of the book is an accordion folded sheet, blank and ready to tell the story of its creator.
Weeks five through eight, students created printing plates, printed on cards and papers, and created pamphlet stitch books out of their prints, respectively. This year we had two types of plates to create a print: one that we etched into, and one that we layered and pasted, to create something akin to a stamp. Students really let their creativity shine through, and crafted beautiful designs. To represent the current, spring-y weather one student made a printing plate of a woman holding an umbrella and staring off into the rain. Provided were blank calendar papers, that way students could create their own planners to help them stay on track for future classes and upcoming events!
A Word from Teaching Artist Ruby Merritt
“The virtual printing partners classes with JERS are moments in time where great things are happening. I feel connected to a group of eager, pleasantly fascinated and motivated individuals striving to succeed. These art classes are a way for the students to improve their problem solving skills, how to not hesitate to ask questions and build up their hand coordination. These functional learning necessities are umbrellaed through creating book arts–what can get better than that-learning through art? The finished artworks are so rewarding because they are useful and functional for every day tasks or daydream doodles. The object is then a forever reminder of their success. Incorporating calendar planners, and prints made to give away and share is our way of extending the class into daily life. This year we made a Japanese stab bound book that included sticky photo-corners for putting their prints or photographs in, like an album.”
For weeks nine and ten, Ruby talked to the students about putting together this blog post, which serves as a virtual exhibition. Students eagerly shared pictures of their work, and generously expressed their gratitude for being a part of PRINTING PARTNERS. The dedication and hard work of Journey’s End students is always apparent, and Book Arts is lucky to have the opportunity to work with them year after year, rain or shine, in person or through a digital medium. Seeing not only individual growth, but the growing sense of community as each week passes is what reminds one of the positive impact of art.
PRINTING PARTNERS is generously supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York State Council on the Arts, with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State legislature. 2022 PRINTING PARTNERS is also generously supported by The County of Erie, The Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, M&T Bank, The Children’s Foundation of Erie County, The Cameron & Jane Baird Foundation, The Vogt Family Foundation, the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation, and the Golden & Goldman Philanthropic Fund. Please visit our Funders page to learn more.
Sustaining and enriching Book Arts’ PRINTING PARTNERS program could not be possible without the support of our members, volunteers, & donors. We can’t thank you enough. Learn more about our funders.