Morgan Conservatory Residency


Work created while on a five-week residency at The Morgan Conservatory printshop and papermaking facility here in Cleveland, Ohio. Studio support for this project was provided by the Morgan Art of Papermaking Conservatory and Educational Foundation.

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Using strips of fabric from my late Grandpa French’s old flannel shirts and my Grandma French’s dress scraps

With the facilities and support at the Morgan, I processed rag strips cut from my late Grandpa French’s flannel shirts. With that cotton fabric pulp, I ended up with almost 30 18’’x24’’sheets of hand pulled paper.

I made three batches: blue and green flannel which turned into that lovely blue, a red flannel batch which turned almost cranberry since there was also blue in the red flannel pattern, and a brown batch which turned a lavender like purple (again due to the blue stripes). You’ll see I played around and mixed the pulp in some of these sheets. This all was made from about 1 plastic grocery bag of thin scraps (what was leftover from the quilts made from these shirts some years back). I also trapped some of my Gram’s (his wife) old dress fabric in some of the sheets.

These will be utilized in a print series I am working on: think physics and children’s book homage inspiration. Stay tuned.

Big thanks to Anna for helping me with this process and to the Morgan for hosting me.


Papermaking process:

Ape_Bleakney_Morgan_Letterpress_'Art Is Work', 12.5x19, Letterpress (Multiples), 2019x.jpg


I created 6 letterpress posters with wood type, letterpress printed on a Vandercook No. 4.

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Where my working artists at?

As a working artist for many years now, I’ve been wanting to make a print with these words for a long time.

Ape_Bleakney_Morgan_Letterpress_'Radical', 12.5x19, Letterpress (Multiples), 2019x.jpg

Inspired initially by the book on Buddhist thought, 'Radical Acceptance' by Tara Brach (she cited 'radix' as the Latin root of “radical”, which led me to look closer at the different definitions and origins for this word).

In 1802 you first see political usage similar to today’s meaning (“change from the roots”). In 1921, you see usage as “unconventional”. And in 1983, in surfer culture as “at the limits of control”.

Ape_Bleakney_Morgan_Letterpress_'Mess Is Ours', 12.5x19, Letterpress (Multiples), 2019x.jpg

Here’s to owning our mess:
Personal / political.
Individual / collective.
Local / national / global.
Inherited or self made.

Inspired by a Noam Chomsky lecture or writing (can’t remember which on exactly): but I had jotted down a note of “no adults / mess is ours”...

Ape_Bleakney_Morgan_Letterpress_'Overwhelmed By History', 12.5x19, Letterpress (Multiples), 2019x.jpg

Inspired by something said by speaker Michael Orange during discussion at this year’s “Artist as Problem Solver” workshop put on by the Joyce Foundation here in Cleveland.

As a student of history, this one really hit it on the head and lodged itself in my brain. In thinking about current crises (and how we got here), this phrase/feeling comes back to me again and again.

Ape_Bleakney_Morgan_Letterpress_'Books Saved My Life', 12.5x19, Letterpress (Multiples), 2019x.jpg

Inspired by a direct quote from my dear friend, Shereen, who I appropriately met in book club.

This one also throws me back to my grandma who was a children’s librarian. And the huge privilege of being a child surrounded by mountains of books and the magic they hold thanks to her.

Ape_Bleakney_Morgan_Letterpress_'Not Resigned', 12.5x19, Letterpress (Multiples), 2019x.jpg

A quote from poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, from her poem “Dirge Without Music” (1928).

Another bolstering phrase that recurs in my mind, especially poignant when following current political and world events.


Letterpress process: