Early Career Development Mentorship with Aimée Henny Brown
In 2019 I was awarded a BC Arts Council Early Career Development Grant to engage in a nine-month-long mentorship in printmaking and book production.
I had recently graduated from ECUAD and was determining my next steps. In considering grad school it was clear to me that most book media programs were situated within print disciplines. I had only the most basic introductory training in relief printing having come to book media from my photography and writing practices. (Actually, I managed to make books regardless of discipline—I made wooden books in Sculpture class, a zine in Installation class—throughout my undergraduate training I often gravitated to book forms.) I felt it would benefit my book practice and enrich my grad school experience to get a bit of a foundation in printmaking so I proposed a mentorship to learn that and advanced book production from Aimée Henny Brown.
I had long admired Aimée’s work in print media and when I took her “Book: The Democratic Multiple” class at ECUAD a couple years earlier I felt challenged and motivated to push my book media practice further. So I couldn’t imagine a better person to mentor me in both print and book media, and I was thrilled when she agreed.
The mentorship was a mix of studio practice and close readings of print and book theory—we spent 40+ hours in rich discussions that we recorded and which I plan to use to produce a publication. Our studio work consisted of screenprinting, etching, bookbinding and container construction, samples of which you can view in this gallery. We also looked at collage and pop-up techniques.
A “section” we did not plan for in our syllabus was a global pandemic unfolding in March 2020 just as a member of my chosen family fell ill and died a month later. This was an incredibly difficult time for me and for Aimée who had to pivot to teaching her classes online. These stresses on our time, energy and access to each other and facilities meant that our nine-month mentorship had to be spread out over 15 months. On the upside, however, we incorporated these challenges into our theoretical analysis and discussions of labour (especially caregiving and teaching), self-care, trauma, fetishization of working too much—including in the art world, and structural barriers due to class, race, gender and disability.
I’m extremely grateful to Aimée for sticking it out with me through this process, for her support and insight as we navigated our challenges, and for the depth and breadth of theoretical and technical learning I received from her.