IOWA!

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As I sit here in the Atlanta airport waiting for my connecting flight to Austin, it seems fitting that my last printshop tour post for Printeresting features the site founders’ alma mater, the University of Iowa. I had the good fortune of a fun, albeit very brief, visit this week. The University has had its ups and down in the decade plus since we received our degrees (way back in 2002!). Most notably, the same year we started Printeresting, the school was dealt crushing blow in the form of the 2008 flood. As most of us in the print community already know, Iowa quickly responded to the crisis and relocated to an empty Menard’s a few miles from campus.

On my visit and in the years since the flood, I’ve heard a fair amount of discussion weighing the pros and cons of this temporary facility. While I don’t know the details well enough to share them here, the bits I’ve heard about navigating the bureaucracy of FEMA are as fascinating as they are bewildering. Personally and I think it is an interesting repurposing of a big box shell- a responsible appropriation of suburban sprawl. And what it lacks in aesthetics it seemed to make up for in space and potentially flexibility. I realize that reality is likely far more nuanced than my idealistic imaginings but, as someone who will never work in the space, that’s what I walk away from the visit thinking. While it’s unfortunate that numerous classes of Iowa art students haven’t been able to experience a campus and downtown within walking distance, community spirit seemed high. Perhaps the trauma and resulting displacement even strengthens the camaraderie? It may sound contradictory but for as much as it’s changed, Iowa felt like the same place to me.

In its final year or two of use, this may all be a moot point as the temporary space is just that, temporary. A new building is well under construction not far from the original building. Unfortunately, I didn’t take pictures of the past or future facilities but I did shoot a bunch of random photos inside the present one. What follows is an un-annotated collection of glimpses into Iowa printmaking’s current home. I’ll follow this up in a few days with some pictures of graduate studios.  If any current Iowans or alum want to share opinions or thoughts in the comments, you’re more than welcome.

A huge thanks to Anita, Breanne, and all the grads for hosting me.

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2 Responses to “IOWA!”

  1. Nathan says:

    Thanks Jason! I couldn’t agree more with your post. And I feel fortunate to have had several great students go on to experience a rich cultural oasis that seems to endure regardless. Oh and cheeseburgers.

  2. Jason Urban says:

    Yeah. Perhaps corny to say but it’s never about the facility. It’s the people.