The Print Media Department is dedicated to innovative approaches to traditional and new print media. The philosophy of the Print Media Department builds upon past and present conceptual models for printmaking in order to envision new possibilities for what a print can or will be in the future.
Part of the department’s approach is based on the historic role of the print as a Democratic Voice. Since print processes allow for the potential to make multiples in an abundant and relatively affordable quantity, prints have often served as a democratic voice to enable the communication of ideas and images to a wide audience. This establishes a traditional precedent for Print Media that includes issues and processes related to mass media, commerce, and exchange in which the culture and the times are questioned, examined, or re-interpreted through personal commentary or narrative.
Other possibilities are offered by a modernist concept of the print as an Original Multiple, in which a specified number of "originals" are produced from a fixed matrix. This fixed matrix is not necessarily limited to a plate, block, stencil, or stone, but can be interpreted as a process, act, or thing that creates a reproducible record of its own making.
On the other hand, Post-modernism helped to define Print Media as the perfect contemporary media for challenging the very notion of originality. Prints can now delight in their status as reproductions, copies, facsimiles, echoes, simulations, repeats, sequels, etc. – all bearing an uncanny resemblance to the questionable idea of an original.
The department is characterized by an interdisciplinary, expansive approach to art making that incorporates disparate elements of many other disciplines – traditional printmaking, painting, drawing, graphics, photography, sculpture, video and sonic arts, digital processes, performance, etc. – to be used as an open framework for building new visions that will define the future of Print Media.
The Print Media Department is a community of individuals from diverse backgrounds that enthusiastically consent to work together and contribute their efforts toward a shared purpose, which is to research, discuss and produce print-based work that will define a leading position within the vanguard of contemporary art practice.
The department seeks applicants that are creative thinkers, articulate speakers and, most of all, ardent workers. The Print Media department is a mentorship program where students “get” in proportion to what they “give”; where self-motivated, independent-minded, mature, and responsible artists/citizens work together for mutual artistic growth within a constructive but demanding learning environment.
The department implements a flexible organizational structure to facilitate an intensive studio practice for each member of the program. We operate on a schedule of weekly group critiques and reading groups, and the opportunity to meet with the artist in residence for individual, informal discussion of work in progress. Our weekly group critiques are initiated by written peer reviews and analysis of the work presented for discussion. The Department’s operation schedule reflects our program’s dedication to the development of each member’s individual studio practice, as well as the growth of a shared set of critical thinking, writing, and social practice skills that will contribute to and advance the discipline of Print Media. Recent seminar topics have focused on the “Culture of the Copy,” the “Real and the Unreal,” the “Democratic Voice,” and “Utopia/Dystopia.” Visits by notable artists, critics, and curators from the print world are scheduled throughout the year, and departmental field trips are planned to augment Academy-sponsored programs including the annual thematic Humanities and Critical Studies lecture series and an active schedule of Cranbrook Art Museum exhibitions and events.
The Print Media Department is located within two adjacent buildings. The department occupies two floors in the Academy Administration building. A cluster of semi-private studios for students, a small computer lab, a critique room, and a kitchen occupy the first floor. The lower level houses recently renovated print shop facilities for water-based screenprinting, intaglio, lithography, and letterpress processes. Additional studios and a large, communal workspace are located across the street in the Lone Pine building. The Academy’s professionally staffed and well-equipped Central Media Lab, Wood Shop and Library further enhance the department’s resources. The metro Detroit business and manufacturing community offers many possibilities for outsourcing of work if required.
Life in and around the Print Media studio
Installing work for group critique.
Felix Harlan and Carol Weaver at Harlan & Weaver printshop, NYC.
Students at the Southern Graphics Conference, Chicago, IL.