Boxcar Press has a heart for projects that combine letterpress printing with children, and none is more dear to us than the Seattle Children’s Hospital Broadside project. This collaboration with 22 artists and pediatric patients always yields beautiful art and prose. The children’s ages range from 5 to 20, and through the Writers in the Schools program (WITS – a poetry program spearheaded by Sierra Nelson and Ann Teplick) the children create amazing imagery with words. The printers at the School of Visual Concepts then give their interpretation of the words. Each year we support this project by donating photopolymer plates for the limited run of 106 broadsides. We reached out to some of the printers involved this year to hear more about their experiences and how they created artwork to showcase each poem – take a look.
Ana Sofia Mariz I was fortunate to find a perfect fit in terms of the poem. My little poet was five and I also have a son of the same age. So I immediately felt engaged and connected as I felt I could hear the boy’s voice in my head. I decided to involve my own son in the project. I told him about this boy who was sick and had written this poem and that we’ll make him a beautiful “drawing” so he’ll be happy and recover faster. My poet wrote about Spiderman, so I brought that idea into the layout within a kid’s visual repertory: drawing, coloring, and crayons.
As the boy would be the Spiderman, I decided to trace my son’s hands and color them as within a Spiderman suit. They are climbing the text wall and the title would be hand drawn like a web between the hands. All the elements would reflect the imperfections of a hand drawing.
I never got to meet the boy. I guess I didn’t realize that was possible at that time, but I wish to meet him and his family some day. I can easily say that this was one of the top five most enjoyable projects I’ve ever done.
Sarah Kulfan This year was my third participating on the Seattle Children’s broadside project. I chose to print my poem using Boxcar plates because of a tight schedule and I have produced great prints with Boxcar plates previously. The poem I printed is called ‘May I’ and was written by eleven year old Kira Hoffman. I was very excited to work on this poem because the first stanza immediately made me think of my brother’s dog Roofus, who passed away this year.
Initially, I was planning on asking Kira about her dog but I realized my interpretation of Kira’s poetry was part of the collaborative process that makes this project so rich. I helped raise Roofus as a pup and over the years, have created various Roofus inspired drawings and artwork. I dug up some old photos of Roofus and developed a sketch. Through Kira’s words, this would be an opportunity to commemorate the pup that I helped raise.
Jenny Wilkson who heads up the SVC letterpress shop and leads the Seattle Children’s broadside project once said that this project is one of the most sustainable efforts she’s experienced. It’s easy to see this as many of the same printers return to donate their time and energy each year, which is one reason why I love this project. I am so honored to have printed Kira’s poem and create a keepsake for her and her family to share; and my brother got a nice birthday present this year, a last memento of his best pal, the yellow dog, Roofus.
Heidi Hespelt This was my second year participating in the Childrens’ Hospital Broadside project. It is such a joy to be part of it. My poet is a 16 year old girl who, I hear, is now doing well and living in Portland. Her poem was strong and happy, so I chose bright colors and the Gerbera daisy image to illustrate that. I used polymer plates for the text and did a lino block reduction for the flowers.
I am a bit smitten with the reduction process (to me it can be a brain twister!) where the block is carved between each pass and the parts that are carved away stay the color you just printed. Sound easy? Yep! Easy to get confused! It was a very satisfying project for me this year to master this.
Darcie Kantor Printed in black and what she calls “Darcie Yellow” because her 15 year old poet specifically titled her poem “Black and Yellow”.
Many thanks to all of the printers who donated their time and efforts to this amazing project!