In 2018, during my trip to the US as a Guest Artist of The Boston Printmakers→ and Mixit Print Studio→ I had the opportunity to approach the most sustainable methods and materials for contemporary printmaking at Zea Mays Printmaking→
This amazing printshop, founded in 2000, is a contemporary space dedicated to the research, practice and dissemination of safe printing. It offers studio access, workshops, residencies, internships and services to an international community of artists. The core of its mission is to demonstrate the high quality and the creative possibilities of original prints made with health consciousness.
As I am currently the only Italian certified as an expert in less toxic techniques at ZMP, it seemed fitting to invite at the Scuola’s printshop Liz Chalfin and Sheldon Carroll – ZMP’s founders – for a series of talks dedicated to sustainability. Liz and Sheldon should have visited in February 2019, just when the world was about to stop.
From there began the historic moment when the noun “travel” changed its meaning. The Covid-19 pandemic has prevented so many artists from traveling for residencies and workshops, to the point that the connections and experiences that are fundamental to artistic discovery, as well as mutual exchange, were at risk of being lost.
Out of this situation came the idea of an alternative journey, virtual and accessible to all, and I found myself pleasantly involved by Liz Chalfin in the organization of this project.
The aim of the World Virtual Tour→ is to accompany virtual travelers on a ten-week journey to different printshops around the world. At each stop the passenger discovers an artist and his/her studio. The online visists include an exchange of questions and answers, a lesson dedicated to a sustainable technique and, last but not least, an idea on the next printshop to visit. Each artist/studio on the tour is connected to Zea Mays Printmaking and is part of the worldwide community of artists involved in safer, more sustainable research in Printmaking.
Tickets are sold for the individual events or for the entire tour. Each appointment is recorded so that the videos may be viewed as many times as desired.
The Virtual World Tour’s itinerary includes 8 different printmaking studios in South Africa, Canada, Belgium, Australia, United Kingdom, Japan, United States and Italy. The Scuola and our country are represented by Alessia De Bortoli, who offered a lesson on Callagraph.
I’m really proud to have had the unique opportunity to be part of this journey through the inks and the wonders of the art of printing and to have known different realities that (virtually) opened their doors to artists, engravers, printers and art lovers during the conference: “Community conversation on international printing opportunities“.
As a guest, I was able to describe the innovations implemented in the Scuola’s printshop after my experience in the United States and to talk about going back to normal life with our Artists Residencies and to print again in a shared space.
I believe this initiative of the ZMP to be highly formative and useful in keeping the bond between the community of printmakers -devoted to safer printing- strong and alive.