Student printmaking club teaches values of unorthodox art form


Printmaking during the Grand Opening of the Art and Visual Studies Building in Lexington, ky. on Tuesday, September 8, 2015. Photo by Lydia Emeric | Staff.

Emily Cole

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In spite of the winter cold front, art is still printing hot off the presses at the UK School of Art and Visual Studies.

Back Alley Press is a student-run club dedicated to teaching students about printmaking in a safe and fun environment.

“Printmaking is one of the most interesting art forms because I think it is one of the least understood art forms,” said Todd Herzberg, a graduate student and active member of the club. “Printmaking is more of a democratic medium because you have the chance to replicate your work to share or sell. Its about spreading a message.”

Two of the organization’s founders, Jakob Lee and Ellen McCann, both senior art studio majors, fell in love with printmaking early during their time at UK.

“We were all sitting around the print room and we decided we needed a place where we could all congregate and work together, instead of just doing our own separate work,” McCann said.

While both Lee and McCann will pursue separate artistic paths after graduation in May, the Back Alley Press has been sustained by partnership and community.

“We want to advocate for print and share the art form with people out on campus,” Lee said.

In its first two years of existence, the club has made an effort to bring printmaking to a more diverse audience both on campus and in the community.

Back Alley Press participated in this year’s See Art Day, and held printmaking demos for more than 600 high school students. Recently, the Back Alley Press opened their art exhibit, “Tetrad”, at Mill & Max Contemplative Arts Gallery downtown.

In the future, the club hopes to organize a Print-a-thon, a 12 hour festival where students interested in printmaking can make and exchange their art work.

“The Back Alley Press opens a door for people to come and learn in a less intimidating environment,” Herzberg said.

As well, students who are inexperienced or new to this art form are encouraged to try their hand at it.

“There are plenty of non art majors with a creative side and we welcome them to come over and make art,” Lee said.

Jonathan McFadden, faculty advisor to the student organization, is an assistant professor in the School of Art and Visual Studies.

“We had a visiting artist from Germany come for a month, and Back Alley Press did an edition of one of his prints. We have started bringing in visiting artists and a couple times a year we would like to bring them here to collaborate with them,” McFadden said.

The club meets Wednesdays at 3 p.m. at the School of Art and Visual Studies and offers students a chance to discover the fun of printmaking for themselves. Back Alley Press can also be reached at their Facebook page at