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Art inspired by Rini Templeton

February 13, 2010

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“Wherever she went, she drew what she saw and donated her art to the cause.”
Rini Templeton was a prolific graphic artist and huge inspiration to artist like me who strive to serve their communities in their struggles for liberation and a better life. She traveled all over documenting direct actions and demonstrations by drawing beautiful, simple, bold black and white illustrations that she referred to as “Xerox” art because of how easy they could be reproduced. I’ve heard many stories about Rini attending a protest, capturing a moment from that protest and then handing the illustration over to the organizer’s for use on flyers, signs, banners, t-shirts…really anyway they needed.


Rini traveled quite a bit and was involved in several struggles. She supported the Cuban Revolution as an active member of Amigos de Cuba. While involved in this work she also founded the Taller de Grabado de la Catedral de la Habana (Havana Cathedral Printmaking Workshop), and she was also a sculptor.

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She lived in New Mexico for a while and was the staff artist for El Grito del Norte, a paper co-founded by Betita Martinez.
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In the last part of the two decades of her art practice Rini was as a part of the Taller de Gráfica Popular in Mexico.
Many of Rini’s graphics are still widely used by social justice organizations for the same purposes she intended and for others she probably never imagined (Facebook events, websites etc).
Inspired by Rini’s life and her heart I have decided to add to the commons by creating new graphics in the same bold style. The decision to do so was pretty organic. I was at a meeting organization’s from all over the region listening to people talk about their organization strategies when I became fixated on a woman who brought her baby to the meeting. I did a quick sketch of her with a ballpoint pen on the back of my notes.
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When I got home I was looking over my notes and I started to feel a lot of excitement about my drawing. I couldn’t wait to share it with Jesus and to share my idea of creating this series. I quickly reworked the sketch into much cleaners pencil lines on a fresh piece of paper. After the drawing was complete I scanned that and printed a version of the scan. I did this to avoid smudging the graphite from the pencil when I inked it. For most of my drawings I use Rotring Rapidograph pens to ink the black lines. The ink is really opaque and flows nicely when I am creating lines.
This is just a start. As I write this and see my drawing next to Rini’s I realize that I need to work on the width and boldness of my lines. I also need to balance the amount of meetings I attend and the amount of actions/community based events I am at. I want to draw whatever I see and give my heart and my work to my people, to my community, and the movement.
I have a small print laid out that we will eventually produce as a screen print.

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