Local Artist Q&A: Lauren Cardenas

Framed piece of abstract art with pencil in the center

Will you tell me a little about yourself, and your background?

I am a recent transplant to Reno, via St. Louis. I am actually a Texas native, but haven’t lived there for almost 10 years now, though it still has a soft spot for it. Anyway, I am an studio artist with a primary focus in print media. I was the editor and co-founder of PIECRUST Magazine, co- director of Museum Blue, and owner of Saturday Press. I hold a BFA from Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX with a focus in Painting, Drawing and Printmaking. I have completed the Tamarind Institute Printer Training Program and hold a MFA from Washington University in St. Louis, focusing in Printmaking, Drawing and Book Arts. I am currently the Black Rock Press Redfield Fellow at University of Nevada, Reno and teach at Western Nevada College.

What kind of projects are you working on right now?

Currently I am working on a solo exhibition at the Holland Project which is part of a larger project that is associated with the Black Rock Press. The exhibition at the Holland is entitled: Rendirse, ya viene la noche, which translates to “Surrender, the night comes”. The work has been a new collaboration with Daniel Enrique Perez, a professor at UNR who is also a poet. The work will be an exhibition of prints and a chapbook, but the larger project that is associated with the BRP is related to my Parley Project. This will publication project will be a set of prints and broadsides that will also be presented with a musical element. The broadsides will be of the poems Daniel Enrique Perez wrote, which were inspired by a set of prints I had created. The musical element is a track that will be created by a fellow DJ in St. Louis, David Kirkland. The entire project is meant to be an audible and visual experience.

What first drew you to making your own publications, and can you give me a brief history of your small-press works?

When I was in graduate school, my best friend Megan Collins and I decided to start an art and literary magazine; that is when PIECRUST was created. We were interested in creating a forum for artists and writers to come together and collaborate. PIECRUST was a biannual that transformed over the course of 7 issues, going from a bound booklet to an envelope of printed ephemera. I have always been interested in the relationship developed within a collaboration between two people. During undergrad I apprenticed with three master printers which led me to attend the Tamarind Printer Training Program, which is a program geared to educating individuals in the art of lithography, but also how to be a collaborative printer. My year there I learned quite a lot about working with others and how to nurture a collaborative relationship. I will always value my time at the Tamarind Institute, because it taught me valuable lessons about working with others within a creative setting, which later influenced my small press projects.

In the last issues of PIECRUST I joined a group of Small Press Publishers to create St. Louis’ first Small Press Expo. STL_SPEX is currently in its fourth year of programming. I sat on the steering committee for three years and loved every moment of it. Small Press is such a wonderful expanding community that really draws individuals from all walks of life together. Which I guess is is why I happen to love small press projects to much. It is the kind of like a gateway to art, the projects can range from beautiful hand printed and bound artist books to grungy comic zines, with subject matter that is subversive but also poignant.

After PIECRUST’s last issue, Dust, was released I decided to switch gears from a magazine to a more intimate project. I started Saturday Press, which is a limited artist editions press. The focus is primarily small press books and limited editions prints. This small press project has been a lot more manageable as a side venture , I try and work with two artists at a time, one focusing on a book project and the other on a print project. The most recent work I have done was with Lyndon Barrios Jr, an STL based artist and Madeline Foy, who was a former intern. Saturday Press produced a 4-color lithograph of Lyndon’s work and small 2” hand bound letterpress book for Madeline.
Along with limited artist editions, I utilize Saturday Press as my own publishing entity for my own work. I am currently working on a small book project inspired by Carl Sagan’s “Pale Blue Dot” and Voyager 1’s last photo of earth.

Will you explain your involvement with Black Rock Press?

I am currently the Black Rock Press Redfield Fellow, as the fellow I assist with duties in the press ranging from aiding students on projects to press production. Along with these duties, I also work on my own art work, which is currently the Parley Project a new publication project BRP will release next spring.

Publication artwork that show the word mine on silver paper

Will you explain to me what your experience has been like in the Reno arts community? What would you like to see happen in the future?

It has been a little bit of an adjustment, coming from St. Louis, which has a much larger art community and one that I was really involved in. I will say it has been a welcoming community and truly I think the City of Reno’s involvement in the arts is absolutely amazing. The level of engagement that they put forth for the community is very inspiring. Sometimes I feel like in larger art communities artists can get lost within the hustle and here there is a clear camaraderie within the artist community which is alluring. I see a lot of growth in Reno and I hope that with that growth comes a lot more support for the arts community, whether is realized through artist fellowships, new galleries, or expositions. I think there is a lot of potential with Reno and I am interested in seeing that evolve.

Lauren Cardenas’ artwork can be seen in Gallery West at McKinley Arts & Culture Center from August 21st  – October 6th, 2017. 

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