Zygote Press, a nonprofit that offers a workspace for emerging and established printmakers and educational programs for the community, has launched a new paid residency for local Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) artists. The goal of the program, which is called BIPOC AIR (artist-in-residence), is to provide five artists from Northeast Ohio the opportunity to learn a variety of print techniques while engaging with a community of fellow artists.
BIPOC AIR participants receive 20 hours of individual instruction in screen printing, risograph printing, and/or mono-printing, a stipend of $500 to cover materials, and a Community Patron Membership. The membership allows them to use Zygote’s Open Studios, participate in its annual members’ exhibition, and receive future discounts on workshops.
No previous printmaking experience is required. The program begins May 1st, 2021, and the first of every month thereafter. The application deadline for July-September AIR is May 30, 2021.
“The residency has been a dream project for the company for years now and finally have the opportunity to offer it to the community,” said Jackie Feldman, who was recently hired as Zygote’s new executive director. “In the printmaking world the majority of artists are white; a number of factors contribute to this racial inequality including the high cost of fine art degree, lack of material, and studio space.”
The goal of the BIPOC AIR program is to uplift artists of color by helping them develop their practice, expand their skills in printmaking, and build artistic opportunities, said Feldman. “Zygote is not only a fine-art printmaking facility with an internationally recognized residency program but also an exhibition gallery with a strong following,” she said. “This puts us in the unique position of being able to teach emerging artists new printmaking skills and promote their work through in-person and virtual exhibitions.”
Anna Tararova, Zygote Shop Manager shared the possible career paths individuals with experience in printmaking can take. “Many Zygote artists and interns have started successful production printing businesses, making apparel, greeting cards, stationery, etc.,” she said.
Printmaking is the process of creating multiples in art. “Originally, printmaking was invented as a way to replicate and make multiples, which allowed artists to share conceptual ideas with a wider audience,” noted Elyse Herrera, Zygote’s technician.
Zygote Press, located at 1410 E. 30th Street just east of downtown, is the largest fine-art print shop between Pittsburgh and Chicago. In addition to being a workspace for established and emerging printmakers, it is also a functional studio where artists can come together to exchange ideas, create new work, and participate in the learning process, both as students and teachers. Zygote also provides educational outreach programming in schools and other settings.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Zygote was able to host many programs virtually such as online classes, virtual exhibitions, and a monthly series of pay-as-you-can printmaking demos that are on their YouTube channel. “Through these experiences, we come closer to understanding ourselves, and we connect to people in our communities and around the world,” said Feldman. “We create and we persist.”
Feldman says her goal is to not only provide unique studio and equipment access to practicing printmakers with national recognition, but they also support a network of emerging artists with fresh voices. She said, “The AIR participants should prepare to have fun and get inky!”
Malia Ali is a junior at Ursuline College majoring in English and Education and an intern with The Land.