One of more memorable experiences for me in Detroit this past week was seeing how people reacted so positively to the mobile screen printing unit that Mary, Heather, and Ashley brought to the Allied Media Conference and the US Social Forum. At the AMC, Mary and crew set up in a classroom at Wayne State University and taught silk screening for nearly eight hours a day! Dozens of images were burned and I wouldn’t be surprised if over a thousand prints were pulled.
At the USSF, the mobile screen printing unit was set up at the Justseeds table at the Cobo Center and it drew crowds whenever it was up and running. People were thrilled to hear that the prints were free and lined up to have images printed on their shirts, canvas bags, or the paper that the Pittsburgh crew had provided. Best of all, people pulled their own prints and learned how to silk-screening by doing. In essence, the mobile silk screening unit became a week long skill share.
Personally, as a viewer, the mobile printmaking unit helped provide a counter balance to tabling prints were the primary goal is to move as many copies as possible. Justseeds is a worker-owned collective but selling activist prints, many of which fall under anti-capitalism themes, comes with its own set of contradictions. With the free silkscreen unit many of these issues remained unresolved, but at the very least, Justseeds could sell prints while also providing a free service where we could teach the basics of silk screening and help promote the medium that we love.
Below are some photos I took of the project in action.
Bec helping out at the print station:
DIY screen-burning kit: (parts available at your local hardware store)
Random person asks Mary “Can I pull a print?” Mary’s response: “Totally.”
Alec Icky Dunn’s image continues to spread like a virus from Cut and Paint to a giant red clay stencil in Philly to free prints on paper and shirts in Detroit.
On the second to last day of the USSF, the mobile screen printing unit hit the streets and followed a march from the Detroit Public Library to an Incinerator owned by Covanta that has been poisoning Detroit residents for years. Ashley and I set up at the start of the march and at various stopping points before the march’s final end point just down the block from the Incinerator itself that smelled like ten thousand porta potties were on fire.
It was interesting to see people gravitate to the table and request prints on their shirts and see a graphic that I had made suddenly appear within the march itself. One drawback was that my image was about water issues and not the incinerator campaign itself, but that said, it did relate to environmental justice and commented on the on-going campaign in Detroit and Highland Park to stop the privatization of water. (For more info on this campaign check out the People’s Water Board Coalition and the film “The Waterfront.”)
All in all, printing in the streets proved to be a great way to meet Detroit folks involved in eco-justice campaigns from the Incinerator campaign to urban farming to water issues, and all the props go to Mary and the Pittsburgh crew for their ingenious mobile silkscreen unit and their generous vision to bring prints to the people!!!
Poster for the march:
Ashley directs the print station at the march:
Emily Abendroth-Philly prison-justice activist and long time friend from Oakland days pulls a print:
Laurie Palmer from Chicago with a styling new addition to her shirt:
Never too young to print: (In the background is JS member Fernando Marti holding Carmela.)