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Letterpress print exhibit at Cumming Library

POSTED: February 18, 2014 12:30 a.m.
Crystal Ledford/

Jennifer Kovac, Cumming library branch manager, stands by one of the art pieces that is part of the “No Small Measure: Collaboration Between Artists & Poets” exhibit.

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CUMMING -- A unique culmination of two art forms is currently on display at the Cumming Library.

“No Small Measure: Collaborations Between Artists & Poets,” a collaborative portfolio of letterpress-printed broadsides, will remain at the library through March 24.

The exhibit comes to the library through the Forsyth County Arts Alliance, which provided the University of North Georgia Art Galleries with an $8,000 grant for the project.

The exhibit organized by artist Margot Ecke, UNG curator Beth Sale and poet Ezekiel Black.

UNG commissioned 15 original broadside prints to be displayed in the exhibit and worked with library staff to coordinate programs to educate the public about the pieces and the broadside tradition.

A broadside, also known as a printed poem, is a large, one-page poem with letterpress printed text that may be enhanced with an illustration or design to compliment the poem.

In the library display, the poems were written by a variety of poets and illustrated by different artists.

The exhibit was first shown at the UNG gallery in Dahlonega last fall.

Jennifer Kovac, Cumming library branch manager, said the exhibit has gotten plenty of attention from library visitors.

“They have served as a great conversational piece,” she said. “I’ve seen people just kind of take a look and then step back, and we’ve had some people who have asked questions about the artwork and we’ve seen people interact with the exhibit. So there’s definitely been some interest.”

Kovac said the artists who created the pieces used a variety of mediums and techniques.

“They actually created the poetry through the letterpress,” she said, noting that letterpress is a type of printing in which movable type is set on an ink press and pressure is used to transfer the ink onto the paper.

“Then what you see in the way of the art could be watercolor or some things that are a little more abstract … or that they’ve cut into the art piece and made a collage of different colors. So it’s cool to see that the artwork reflects the poetry with the way the artist has tied everything together.”

The pieces likely will receive more attention over the next few weeks as the library presents a series of broadside-related programs.

At 6:30 p.m. Thursday, the library will present a poetry reading of the 15 pieces. Guest readers will include local authors and artists such as Gloria Bennett, Ezekiel Black, Karen Dodson, Kyle McCord, Samuel Prestridge, BJ Robinson and Heidi Staples.

No registration is required to attend the reading.

From 1 to 3:30 p.m. Feb. 22, the library will present a broadside artist workshop, facilitated by Ecke.

Each workshop participant will be supplied with a letterpress poem to embellish with his or her own artistic voice.

The workshop is limited to 25 participants and patrons must register online at the library’s website,, to attend.

The series of programs will conclude with a lecture by Ecke at 4 p.m. Feb. 22. Advanced registration is not required.

Ecke will speak for about 45 minutes about the history of broadsides in America since the early 20th century. She will discuss famous poets, such as Robert Frost, and well-known printers, such as Victor Hammer, who popularized the art form, as well as information about broadsides being produced today.

In addition, she will showcase some of the methods, tools and expertise needed to create the works of art.

According to Kovac, perhaps the best thing about the display is that the library system will get to keep the pieces.

“So we’ll be able to utilize them in different ways. We’ve talked about maybe rotating them among our branches and incorporating them into some future programs,” she said.

“There is such an interest in the arts, especially in this area with us kind of being part of metro Atlanta,” she said. “I really think we need to provide more art programs for the public … so I’m excited that we’re doing this.”


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