Friday, March 1, 2024


“I am constantly trying to communicate something incommunicable, to explain something inexplicable, to tell about something I only feel in my bones and which can only be experienced in those bones.” -Franz Kafka

As humans, we long to communicate. The very moment we are born we reach out into the brightness searching for somewhere to connect. Throughout our lives we work to tell our stories and to understand the stories of others. Knowledge is passed down through generations, or sometimes it is lost only to be picked up again long into the future when someone wishes to understand the ancestors.

Jessica Spring is an artist in Tacoma, Washington where she works out of a converted garage studio and letter press shop in easy striking distance to the Puget Sound. She began her printing career in Chicago. In college she worked as a typesetter for the school newspaper. As she puts it, her experience “went backwards” in that she first learned more modern typeset before moving into hand set type. While working at a design firm, the opportunity to acquire a Vandercook Press presented itself. It was on this proofing press that she began learning hand set type.

When Spring and her husband relocated to Washington for his work, included in the relocation package was shipping all of her printing machines and lettering. An enormous undertaking but one that Spring does not regret. Once settled in Tacoma, she set up shop and began printing again.

Spring has also worked on a long form collaborative work with illustrator Chandler O’Leary titled The Dead Feminist. The project began during the election cycle before Obama took office. Spring was frustrated by the election, in particular talk of Sarah Palin’s eyeglasses. Spring and O’Leary created a print based on the glasses and a quote from Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The two created a print which immediately sold 44 copies. They have just completed their 26th print and have released a book about the project with a regional publisher. Some of Spring and O’Leary’s work is in Yale Special Collections.

Spring’s press is called Springtide Press. She also runs a business called Daredevil Furniture through which she produces custom tools for printers. Spring makes it her mission to increase some of the lost knowledge of print. One current project titled Recollection pays tribute to her father who died of Alzheimer’s in 2017. This summer, Spring is set to attend a residency in paper making at Morgan Conservatory. Much of her work today is about preserving memory. To hear more about her work and thoughts on the state of printing today, listen to the complete interview.

Brian Alfred is a Brooklyn based artist. He had a show in NYC during February and March and is now in the process of gestating new work. His recent show Future Shock was in part inspired by the book of the same name by Alvin Toffler. The work in the show related to how Alfred was thinking while reading the book. Landscape images make up the meat of the show. Alfred does not try to proffer any particular narrative, though he does say that there is a loose narrative of environmental issues running through Future Shock. Alfred’s big ask is that the viewer look at the world a little differently when they leave the gallery. Of exhibtions, Alfred says, “it’s kind of like dropping your kids off at school you know, it’s like ‘alright, go get ’em.'” Reception of Future Shock was quite positive.

Alfred hosts a podcast called Sound and Vision. Four years ago he began teaching at his undergraduate alma mater Penn State. During the commute from New York to Pennsylvania he began listening to podcasts to pass the time. He sought out an art podcast but couldn’t find one he wanted to listen to. This prompted him to begin research and development for his own podcast. Alfred finds the process engaging and relishes the experience of creating the podcasts. “I like to be in the moment, to hang out with someone and talk to them,” he says.

In addition to is own work, Alfred also curates. He has a few shows in the works in this capacity. He equates his podcast to curating in that he is choosing the artists he talks to. Artist curated shows are different than those by career curators, Alfred says. Curating offers artists an opportunity to create community that they might not have without the practice. Alfred’s curated shows are born of an overarching theme. One show titled Black and White at Miles McEnery Gallery in Chelsea brought together artists from a very broad cross section of experience. The theme that tied the work together was the palette in black and white.

To hear more about Alfred’s work and his complex thoughts on hosting a podcast and whether or not that plays into his practice, listen to the complete interview.

A Few Words to Keep in your Pocket:

Communication is the key to great joy and terrible strife. It can bind relationships and buckle nations.

Interviews are available on iTunes as podcasts, and for Android please click here. All weekly essay pieces in a shareable format are here. The full archive of interviews here.

Books to Read

What are you reading? Add your titles to our reading list here. Jessica Spring and Chandler O’Leary’s book Dead Feminists is available through Sasquatch Books. Brian Alfred drew inspiration from Future Shock by Alvin Toffler.


Artadia offers financial awards to visual artists living and working in one of the cities associated with the grant. These cities are Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Houston, Atlanta, and San Francisco. Each city has a separate time frame for applications. During the summer of 2018, artists in San Francisco are invited to apply for grants ranging from $5,000-$20,000. Grant money is unrestricted. All applicants must have resided in the associated city for at least two years and students are not eligible. For further details and dates for other cities, visit the Artadia website. Applications for San Francisco are being accepted as of July 1 and the deadline for SF submissions is August 1.


Weekly Edited Grant and Residency Deadlines – review the list here.




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