Finally, my two primary interests united! Artsy inky stuff + cultural studies = my dreamy future. And last night I got a good dose of both when I attended a talk by Brian Allen called “From Homer to BFF: about how we express ourselves.” The event is part of a series hosted by hosted by CU Libraries Scriptalab and the Colorado Book Arts League, which resulted in a diverse audience: from hip graphic design students and aging papermakers and letterpress printers.
I was familiar with most of the cultural aspects of the presentation (Socrates’ anxieties about changing from an oral culture to a print culture, for example), but I really enjoyed Allen’s take on it. He talked about letterpress printing as a profession where men are allowed to be creative and artistic in a socially acceptable way. (Gender commentary gets you brownie points in my book.)
And he focused on the ways that printers and calligraphers have responded to a digital age– which is just a smaller version of how every oppressed group (whether racial, cultural, or professional) has developed strategies and adaptations for survival. See Gloria Anzaldua for further reading.
I also appreciated that Brian wasn’t totally against digital technology, given that so many craftsmen and women are. What is important, he concluded, is that we help digital technology to make good choices. And that we engage our own hands in the 3D world at the same time.
Still, while I was musing how to incorporate this into my professional future, I had to concede that is harder for women to get into this profession. Women are more commonly book artists and calligraphers, but printing is still a boy’s game. Ah, well. Yet another thing to add to my Badass Professions for Women list (which, so far, includes glassblowing, pen turning, and being a pilot).