Thursday, March 27, 2014

Spring Has Sprung! Maybe?

Well, the season is here but Mother Nature seems to be nostalgic for the wintery storms. Consequently, she continues to sprinkle her cold, snowy goodness on us as we near the end of March.

Never the less, even though the remains of frosty grass and snow covered branches were not an uncommon sight last week, that doesn't prevent all of us here at Pyramid Atlantic Art Center from springing into gear! If you come by the studio you'll see that the presses are pressing, the beater beating, wood-type is falling into place, and we have welcomed in two new interns!

Please say hello to Hope Sorensen and Lee Nowell-Wilson, hailing from Fredrick and Baltimore, MD.

Hope graduated from the Corcoran College of Art + Design, and grew up with her twin sister. She adds the disclaimer that her twin's name is not Despair but rather is Tegan! Joining them is a cat named cuddles...very old, very lazy, but very good at cuddling. When asked where Hope got her name from, she tells of the days that her mother worked in a cancer center and said "all you need in this lifetime is a little more Hope." And the rest is history, folks! Kind-hearted Hope became the hope, cuddles with Cuddles, and eats vegetarian!

Lee graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2011 and since then has been living it up. She spent a couple months in Honduras teaching 1st graders, and then came back to meet her husband while rock climbing. During all this she started a mural painting company and you might see some of the murals around the Baltimore + DC area. The first time we went out for coffee she got the largest hot chocolate at Zed's, with just as much whipped cream on top as liquid in the mug!

What's Happening in Our Studios: Clare Winslow and Gretchen Schermerhorn in Print Shop


 Gretchen Schermerhorn tutors Clare Winslow

 inks and roller

 Clare prepares the plate (1)

 Clare prepares the plate (2)

 the print is pulled!


On March 26, our Denbo Resident Clare Winslow was taking advantage of one of her perks. The residency comes with an offer for technical assistance, which can be taken advantage of various ways. For instance, for an artist doing large-sized work it may mean having someone available to help maneuver the materials. Clare's choice was to receive a tutorial today from Gretchen Schermerhorn on creating multi-pass montoypes in print shop.
Gretchen explained that multi-pass monotypes involve positive and negative shapes and masking. Layers may be added for running prints several times through the press. Prints may include several colors as in a painting, solid colors, or color layers that create the illusion of several different colors.
Ink goes on the plate, with objects on top of the inked plate, then paper. Objects such as the leafy plants used today block the ink for a printmaking-negative effect, but since they receive ink on one side they may then be used face down on another print for a positive-ink rendering. After the press is run, the print is placed on a rack to dry.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

What's Happening in Our Studios: Combat Paper NJ in Papermaking

On Friday, November 14, Eli Wright of Combat Paper New Jersey was packing up from a week of papermaking with his group. Music from The Decemberists' album "The King is Dead" played in the background as many of the completed pieces lay on a low table. Wright (pictured left) held up a larger piece, where the pulp was splattered around to create the effect.

Combat Paper Project is a veteran-run national organization with affiliate-run mills whose New Jersey affiliate is supported by a printmaking center in Branchburg, New Jersey. The group had seven participants this week, all active duty service members, all patients at Walter Reed, and some from Fort Belvoir, said Wright. Combat Paper Program has been in existence since 2007, the New Jersey section started at the end of 2011. David Keefe and Eli Wright co-founded the New Jersey section. To learn more about Combat Paper Project, visit

What's Happening in Our Studios: Sue Yoon in Printmaking, and Eva Hamlett at the Workshop Table, for the Mural

 laptop image of the original art
the projection of the art on the wood panel, with Pyramid Atlantic intern Sue Yoon
 student art examples for this project
 Pyramid Atlantic intern Eva Hamlett paints the mural
Sue Yoon works from a laptop computer image projected overtop a wood panel, carefully tracing an outline onto the wood and adding color codes that will then be painted over for a mural. The original images were done by children who are students of Pyramid Atlantic. Sue is from South Korea, and one of our interns.

Meanwhile, in the next room, intern Eva Hamlett is putting on the paint. She has worked on murals before, five before this one, she said.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Meet The Fellow: Corwin Levi

Pyramid Atlantic is thrilled to welcome Corwin Levi as our Artist Fellow.    Corwin was born in North Carolina.  He moved around and lived in Boise, Idaho and Silver Spring, Maryland before eventually settling in Knoxville, Tennessee  where he spent many of his childhood years.  The hiking and time that he spent outdoors while living in Tennessee continues to be a tremendous influence in his work today.
Pyramid Atlantic Artist Fellow Corwin Levi.
Corwin made a very interesting career transition.  He decided to pursue art full time after practicing law for several years.  Becoming an artist seemed like a natural progression.  “I have been making Art as long as I can remember,” Levi said.  “My mom taught me to read by writing words and having me draw pictures of the words. I think practicing law was a way for me to see another world, or another side of the world and it made me both appreciate and understand artmaking so much more.”
The work of an artist can be inspired by anything.  Corwin finds his inspiration in everything from waking up everyday to conversations with other people.  These ordinary parts of life have inspired Corwin’s beautiful artwork.  
For more information on Corwin and his upcoming shows, please check out his website at


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Meet Our New Visiting Artistic Staff Member: Nicolas Jenkins

Pyramid Atlantic's other new visiting artist, Nic Jenkins, also completed his bachelor's degree at Arizona State University. Here is the email interview with Nic for the Pyramid Atlantic blog.

PO: I enjoyed exploring your website Under photogravures, you include five images of your work. In these pieces, there are places: Las Palmas motel, landscapes. These photogravures appear to be about the transformation of place, or about the surprising interplay between apparently unrelated sites. I felt drawn to the impact of seeing these works together. Is this something that you think you may continue to do - make art that is about encountering places that complement each other in some way?

NJ: I really enjoyed working on those photogravures and I feel that I have more work to do with that particular series of landscapes. When I first started taking photographs I wanted to explore my surroundings. I felt it necessary to interact with my broader environment: that which surrounds me and I neglect to acknowledge. Being from Phoenix, Arizona, that meant the mountains that make up the valley, and the sprawling surface streets that connect one place to another.

Now that I have made the D.C. Metro my new home I am very eager to make new photogravures of this area.

PO: In another series, Jack and Sara, I believe you explore a period of your parents' relationship in the past in search of a story that lies beneath the surface. Instead of passing over certain things, relationships or landscapes, you pause, show something, and then add other views. I can't quite put my finger on it, but you seem to want people to pause, slow down, and consider something right in front of their eyes. Do you?

NJ: In fact, I would put myself in the position of the viewer. I believe I have more to learn from my parents as I age. When I was reproducing these images from photographs of my parents during their wedding I realized they were in their late twenties at the time. I explored their lives through those photographs and tried relating them to mine, imagining what they were like at my age and the decisions they had made. To be honest, these, as most of my work, were more for me than anyone else, although I had the opportunity to exhibit these prints together where my parents were able to attend.

PO: In terms of your art, how important is travel to you?

NJ: Travel is very important to me. When I was younger my parents taught me the value of traveling and I am always looking for opportunities that take me somewhere new. My art evolves from this, from what I am doing in my travels, and what I see. I feel every environment has characteristics of their own and something new to teach me.

PO: Are there places you want to visit and do art?

NJ: I am attracted to many places, in particular: Yellowstone National Park, and Yosemite. I also want to explore the major cities of the world, and how they evolve on top of themselves through time.

PO: How did you get started in art?

NJ: When I began college I was interested in both art and engineering. My sophomore year I took a class in printmaking and physics. I was drawn right away to the hands on and creative approach of printmaking.

PO: Are you thinking of going on for a master's degree in art? Where would you concentrate you study?

NJ: I am very interested in furthering my education. A master's degree in printmaking has always been in my future plans. But I also think there is a lot to learn outside of academia, and I believe Pyramid Atlantic has a lot to teach me about being an artist and connecting with the community.

PO: What do you teach at Pyramid Atlantic?

NJ: Currently, I am a Visiting Artistic Staff Member at Pyramid Atlantic, and I have been assisting in the Montgomery Housing Project, teaching young kids art projects. Beyond that I hope to be able to share some of the skills and techniques with anyone interested.

PO: What are you working on now?

NJ: Currently I am working on a few commissions and getting settled at my new home. With Franc's* help I have found a large interest in woodworking, both in the practical, i.e. furnishing my house and in the creative. I am also looking into the possibility in teaching a few classes at Pyramid, sharing my knowledge in photogravure and mezzotint. I hope to soon start working on a few woodcuts and monoprints I have had on my mind.

[*Franc Rosario is Pyramid Atlantic's Digital Lab and Woodshop Associate. -PO]

Catching Up with Past Denbo Residency Artist: Karen Elaine Hardy

At Pyramid Atlantic we don’t always get to share the finished work of our artists in residence as there is often much experimentation that goes on before the completion of a project, but happily we can today. Former Denbo Residency artist Karen Elaine Hardy recently let us know about a book she worked on here and her experience as a Denbo resident. Here is a picture and link to her blog post about it. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

What's Happening in Our Studios: T.J. Cichecki and Abe Garcia in Letterpress

Abe: Handle up
Handle in motion
Handle down
T.J. at the guillotine paper cutter
T.J. and Abe are starting a design firm and will be printing business cards and coasters. Workhorse is the name of their outfit, with Instagram handle "wrkhrs." T.J. first heard about Pyramid Atlantic downtown, and discovered our letterpress studio when he took a class here with Melanie Karlins (Grey Moggie Press). Now he shares studio space with Melanie in Capitol Hill.
Abe is new to Pyramid Atlantic, but not new to printing. He is a MFA '12 graduate of MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore) and also self taught. Both he and T.J. are freelance designers.
In addition to letterpress, today also included a step into the bindery to use the guillotine paper cutter. T.J. recommends Pyramid Atlantic for specialized printing, which is not easily found elsewhere. And do you know about the Pyramid Atlantic Happy Hours? Along with the fun, that's when all the studios are available for two hours, for less money.

Meet Our New Denbo Residency Artist: Clare Winslow

Denbo Residency recipient Clare Winslow is doing screenprinting on a panel of wood. This is somewhat experimental for her as she usually works with paper. The surface of the panel is not as smooth, takes color differently, the color will appear differently, and it's hard to know what it will look like beforehand. It's harder to test with wood than with paper, because you wouldn't want to throw out the wood, though you can sand a layer off later if necessary. The project is a two-piece scene to go on wood reused from kitchen cabinet doors. She has used the medium before, but previously on something already prepared. Her medium, as it comes from something already in existence, will need to be prepared and coated first. Otherwise, the wood could buckle. So first comes sanding and coating, and after the ink goes on, a varnish to protect the surface. This artwork may take ten or so layers of ink.
The inspiration for the project is a landscape. Clare envisions a loose landscape rooted in a particular suburban street at dusk, in which there was a filtered, lowering light; street lamps; telephone wires; dark trees; and a light sky. Telephone wires are commonly thought of as ugly additions to a view, says Clare, but in this piece their interesting geometric lines cross the picture, adding abstract elements.

For her one-month residency at Pyramid Atlantic for the Denbo Residency, Clare thinks this piece and the preparation for it will be plenty to take on. Her goal is to finish the test prints and final project in the month of March. The ink on the table today is speedball water-based screenprinting ink (acrylics).

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Art and Youth Development

“We cannot teach people anything, we can only help them discover it within themselves” –Galileo

Seven weeks into our Montgomery Housing Partnership Art Grant, we've witnessed a stunning spur of curiosity at Arcola Elementary School and the Pembridge/Amherst Square apartment’s community center. After learning how to make collages, books, and various prints the students have explored their imagination, strengthened communication skills, and have found original ways to express themselves.

We are thankful that MHP invited us to collaborate on this 21st Century grant!