Profile: Phoenix Rising Printmaking Cooperative

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This month's profile features the Phoenix Rising Printmaking Cooperative, a collective of talented local artists that are dedicated to promoting the art of printmaking by providing a well-equipped studio, educational opportunities and an environment of mutual support, camaraderie and inspiration for artists and students and the community. We spoke with member artist, Cindy Davis, to learn more about Phoenix Rising. Davis is an accomplished printmaker and shares her skills and inspiration by teaching workshops.

By Jennifer Sadler

GCAC: How did you get involved with printmaking? Can you describe your style of work?

CD: I learned printmaking from a Fransican priest in central Italy. He was a well-known artist who had taught printmaking in the university in Perugia, and very kindly offered to take me as his student. My work is kind of schizophrenic: I work in either a totally abstract expressionist mien, or a meticulously detailed style. I feel equally at home in either realm, and I love the adjustments in approach when I switch between them.

GCAC: Phoenix Rising has been around for nearly 15 years – that’s impressive! What is it that keeps the momentum and dedication to the collective alive? Are there members who have been around from the start?

CD: Yes! Anne Cushman was a co-founder and president for many years. She is a prime example of the kind of dedicated artist and mentor that sustains our organization. Phoenix has several long-term members, I think it says a lot about the importance of community to artists. We are all very involved in making Phoenix a great resource for artists in Columbus. Our members are supportive of each other's growth and welcoming to anyone who wants to print. Who wouldn't want to be a part of a group like this?

GCAC: What was the impetus for opening Phoenix Rising? Can you tell us a bit of history? Did it start out with the intention of offering workshops and outreach?

CD: It was the absence of an independent printmaking studio in Columbus that sparked the purchase of the primary etching press and the creation of the studio. From the beginning, Phoenix has offered classes and workshops, both because we intended to become a non-profit, and because we needed to expand our involvement with the community. We continue today with an expanded range of programs, always looking for new ways to promote printmaking.

GCAC: Tell us about the space itself and what someone who is interested in printmaking could expect to experience. Is there a gallery space featuring members’ work?

CD: We are thrilled with our current studio! The space is perfect for classes and solo work, with a wall of North windows and loads of pristine glass-topped work tables. The studio is equipped with two large etching presses and an excellent Vandercook proofing press for reliefs. Very soon, we will also be setting up new equipment for silk screen printing. Phoenix offers classes for both beginners and experienced printers in many types of printmaking: letterpress cards, intaglio, relief, monoprinting, takban, and embossing. We use the white walls of our studio to display our work and soon we will be able to exhibit work in the corridor outside our door.

GCAC: Your web site mentions that Phoenix does some educational outreach. How do you connect/collaborate with local schools and arts groups?

CD: We have an intern from CCAD working with us now. Internships at Phoenix Rising are a great way for students to gain experience and see how an independent print studio really operates. We would like to see more participation from local students in our critiques and Artist Talks. All kinds of groups have enjoyed taking creative printmaking classes together at our studio. It's great to see people discovering another side to each other.

GCAC: Phoenix has an event coming up on December 6 where folks can see the studio and learn to print their own cards. Sounds like a fun event – do you do this every year? What can you tell us about the 2012 Card Collection?

CD: We have a new greeting card pack every year, but this is the first time we can show off our new studio and "launch" the card pack at the same time. The cards are designed and made by our members, and the pack contains nine all-purpose cards. We print these cards on our amazing Vandercook proofing press, a retro machine that visitors can use to print a card or two at our party ton December 6th. The "Launch Party" debuts the 2012 card pack, and we'll have refreshments plus lots of information about classes and other activities. People will also have an opportunity to buy prints made by our members and gift certificates for classes.

GCAC: How do you think buying locally from artists and businesses, etc., affects the community (besides the obvious economic benefits)?

CD: These days anyone can find mass produced items on line or in a big box store. A really thoughtful gift has to surprise the recipient, and make a special connection between the giver and the receiver. When you find a gift that is unique, that comes from your community—that connection fulfills a need to connect in a powerful way.

GCAC: Anything exciting coming up that you’d like to share?

CD: We are having a new web site developed right now! Soon our Facebook and blog will be integrated with the site to keep everyone informed about programs and activities in the coming year.

To learn about Phoenix Rising Printmaking Cooperative, visit their profile or go to  Be sure to stop by their open house at their studio at 243 N. Fifth St., Ste. 140 (Columbus) on December 6 and celebrate the launch of their limited edition 2012 Card Collection (also available for purchase for $24). Relax and enjoy delicious hors d’oeuvres and beverages. Visitors will have the opportunity to operate the studio's Vandercook Letterpress and print a few holiday greeting cards to share with friends! Original prints by Phoenix member artists will also be available for purchase.

Images: Courtesy of Phoenix Rising, credit Judith Steele.