There’s a picture of Amos Paul Kennedy Jr. next to “idiosyncratic” in the dictionary. Or is it “irreverent”? Heck, he probably appears in a few places—he’s got personality to spare. Known for his signature overalls and provocative edge, the proprietor of KennedyPrints! is well-versed in writing his own rules. We got better acquainted with his work through the 2008 documentary, Proceed and Be Bold!. Then we had the pleasure of working with him a couple years back to commemorate 10 years of 20x200. And we’ve been thrilled to follow that up with a few other editions.
Recently, his work has been popping up on the Instagram feeds of our Bay Area friends. This past Saturday in Oakland, CA, Kennedy led a letterpress workshop at The Compound Gallery, (eavesdrop here and here!) followed by the opening reception for his second solo exhibition at that spot, Louder Noise on the Walls. The show will be up through March 15th, 2020, so be sure to check it out if you’re nearby. There are tons of incredible cash and carry prints available for purchase, and 50% of all sales will go straight to the Oakland Public Library—a good reminder that Kennedy’s a fervent library lover. Feel similarly? Scoop up his 20x200 edition I Support Public Libraries, for which 100% of the proceeds will go to Kennedy’s local Detroit public library.
Speaking of Detroit, Kennedy is hard at work on the future of Kennedy Prints—a come-one-come-all printery in a space he’s dubbed the Pile of Bricks. When restoration is complete, the space will house his imprint, KennedyPrints!, and the Printing Plant, what Kennedy calls “a community-based letterpress center. A center where inclusion is the founding principle ... a safe place for all peoples”. In order to transform the old, dilapidated garage into a game-changing printing plant, Kennedy could use your support. His crowdfunding campaign just reached its goal (woop!) but he’ll be paying out of pocket for every expense that’s not covered by the modest minimum he set. There’s still time to pitch in (just until tomorrow!) and every penny will go toward restoring the space and building the communal studio. Plus, there are some sweet perks, including a number of themed print subscriptions. Annnnd a secret perk for 20x200 friends if you follow our links.
Kennedy took a brief break from his fundraising hustle to hit us with some of his inimitable insights. Writing in the collective first and humbly describing himself as “just an old colored man with too many presses and not enough work type,” he told us “we have been trying to print for 32 years and we still enjoy it … it truly makes us happy”. Kennedy thinks of printing as the gift he’s lucky enough to share with the world. “We believe that each person has a gift,” he explained. “Our gift is to put ink on paper.” The beauty of this belief lies in its ability to bring folks together in a sort of kaleidoscope of mutual contribution. “By sharing our gift, we hope it will help people find their gifts.” This ethos will be an essential part of his new printery. Everyone is welcome, all additions enrich the mission, and value is self-evident. “People want us to speak about our work but we believe our work speaks for us,” Kennedy said. Catch his work speaking IRL at these upcoming events:
- March 4 - 5 workshop at the University of Maryland
- March 7 - 8 workshop at Pyramid Atlantic
- 31 March 31 - April 5 public art project in Arlington, VA
- April 2nd conversation with Katherine Blood at the Library of Congress
With art for everyone,