Sunday, September 13, 2009

Last week to see exhibit

The legacy of Middle Tennessee State University’s working replica of an 18th century printing press is explained through photos and prints as part of an exhibit at the main branch of the Nashville Public Library, 615 Church St., through Sept. 27.

A closing reception will be held from 2:30 - 4:30, Sunday, September 27th.

The exhibit is titled “Telling the Story: Letterpress Printing and Community.” The university’s segment will include the story of letterpress printing at MTSU. The works of current MTSU art students, alumni, visiting artists, faculty, elementary, middle- and high-school teachers and students who printed on the James E. Walker Library’s unique device will be highlighted.
A reproduction of the English common press used by Benjamin Franklin in the early 1700s, the printing press was handcrafted by cabinetmaker Keith Jenkins and blacksmith Jeff Henderson. The wood came from a 100-year-old house in Virginia, and all the brass, iron and steel parts were forged by hand. Faculty and students donate their time working on the press which is solely dependent on private support from individuals.

The press project offers students and the community a dramatic and unforgettable experience through activities that integrate history, writing and letterpress printing. Activities include lectures to university and school students about historical printing, a visiting artist each semester, community print nights, and printing demonstrations for community groups. The construction of the press was made possible with grant money awarded to Walker Library faculty members Dr. Alan Boehm, Director of Special Collections, and William Black, Administrative Services Librarian, and Janet Higgins, Department of Art.

Items that were printed by MTSU art students on the Vandercook Press, a precision-built, flat bed cylinder proof device, and the Tulip Poplar Press will be featured, as well. The Vandercook Press is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its creation this year. Austin Peay State University will also be part of the exhibit with works printed on its Goldsmith Press.

The exhibit will be located in the Nashville Public Library’s second floor Courtyard Gallery. For more information and for photos of the MTSU press, contact Kristen Keene at 615-898-5376 or

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