“Puttin’ Ink on Paper’


University of Akron

Visitors look at installation at Folk Hall by artist Kennedy.

By Donald Jeffries, Writer

Artist Amos Paul Kennedy visited Folk Hall on September 15 to give a lecture and display his work for his one man exhibition, “Puttin’ Ink on Paper.”

Artist Amos Paul Kennedy speaks about his art.
Kristina Aiad-Toss
Artist Amos Paul Kennedy speaks about his art.

In his lecture, Kennedy gave insight into how he started printing.

It started out as a hobby for Kennedy until he discovered Artist Book Works in Chicago, where he took classes until he could acquire his own press and shop.

“At the ripe old age of 38 I discovered letterpress printing, and decided that that was a cool thing to do,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy received his first press in Alabama where he stayed for 10 years, rent and utility free.

“I was just fortunate, I was at the right place at the right time,” Kennedy said.

From this experience, Kennedy got the idea that anyone that goes to art school or majors in art needs space to make their art as well as freedom from the worry of how they will pay for the space, adding that they should be entitled to both for 10 years.

“For 10 years I had one thing I could do, and that [was] improve my craft, actually make stuff every day,” Kennedy said.

Later on, he explored his view on the connection that artists should have with politics. He urged artists to get involved in politics, vote, and even run for office. Kennedy gave the example of seeing what a group of artists thinks about certain issues such as public housing.

“Your solution would be just as valid as getting a group of sociologists,” Kennedy said.  

Kennedy explained how failure is a learned trait that children don’t understand and that is why they can eventually walk and talk because they do it “again and again and again.”

He also expressed how important it is to “make art every day,” a phrase one can find on one of his posters.

At the end of his lecture, Kennedy answered questions from the audience. The first person who asked a question received a poster of Kennedy’s making. The poster read in big black letters: “LIFE: You’re not gonna get rich; So you might as well get HAPPY.”

Graphic Design student Josh Purman enjoyed the lecture.

“A lot of other artists focus on do whatever you want, they don’t really focus on the business aspect of it, but he contradicts that,” Purman said. “He really contradicts a lot of principles that most people tell you, but then uses that contradiction to still give back in the same situation, it’s really about what you love.”

Kennedy’s exhibit is on display in the Emily Davis Gallery in Folk Hall and is filled with 6,400 out of the 8,000 6-by-6 inch colorful cards he used to make his display. The cards cover the walls from floor to ceiling. Written on the cards are aphorisms such as “If you wish to keep a secret, keep it yourself first” and “Truth is the best advocate.”

The exhibit is on display through September 25.