When I came to Kendall, I had an affection for printmaking and was impressed with the facility that existed then. Unfortunately, the numbers of students who registered for printmaking were not large; and although I hate to admit it, I do watch enrollment numbers and was beginning to wonder about printmaking’s future. And given the size and weight of the presses in the third floor print lab, I was not anxious to have to try and have them moved out. My understanding is that to move them in the College had to have a crane lift them to the third floor. If you know the building, you know they could not have come up the stairs or up the elevator. As I recall, a number of years ago, Kendall conducted a search for a number of faculty to teach drawing. One of those selected, Mariel Versluis, brought great strength in drawing to the College. But then she sort of “volunteered” to teach printmaking courses as well. Of course, I was delighted; and she began teaching printmaking.
Enrollments in printmaking grew. I am at a loss to explain why a person of Mariel’s ability and achievement as a printmaker, coupled with her commitment to printmaking should result in a growth in printmaking enrollments. But then I do not try to explain mysteries—I just accept them. The long and short of it is that printmaking has become remarkably viable and some current and former students have done extraordinary things.
One that quickly comes to mind is a collective known as Dinderbeck Studios. I'd first like to point out that the partners at Dinderbeck, which I believe the list has increased to eight partners, are all affiliated with Kendall - either as graduates or current students. Most of whom studied printmaking while at Kendall, taking courses taught by Mariel.
Initially conceived as a printmaking collective and studio, the group has received small grants and donations allowing them to fund a larger space, which they have begun to renovate for shows, workshops, and gatherings.
The group has displayed a great work ethic, along with an ability to manage projects, tasks, and duties while each maintains a 9 - 5 day job. Each member is quite driven in his or her craft, planning to contribute to the group as much as possible. Co-founder, Brandon Alman, says of the group’s process, "I wouldn't say it's delegated. When things need to get done, we pull together and get it done." I think they possess a certain chemistry that proves them a true collective. Whether they're hosting a show for local artists, or tuning up a print press from the 1950's, they have been keeping busy.
Community is an important part of Dinderbeck Studios. I favor their gumption to reach out to other groups and clubs seeking funding, and offering their space and talent. Alman says of this, "A lot of kids graduate from any school in printmaking and they just can't do it. It's hard to access the equipment." He also mentioned that a more distant goal is to allow the community to benefit from the use of their studio space and actual printing equipment. In the meantime, they will continue to host shows, curating their space for others to enjoy.
Last Saturday, on the 1st of the month, Dinderbeck Studios hosted a collective show titled “Fortified,” featuring forts from more than thirty artists. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend. However, based on this Flickr set I found, it seems the show was a splendid one. I would like to continue a series on printmaking by following the work of Mariel, the printmaking department at Kendall, and the Dinderbeck group.