Interview With Justin Sanz

By March 16, 2017Artists

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MM&S:   Besides your position as the Workshop Manager at the EFA Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop in NYC you have been involved with printmaking workshops at MOMA and a variety of other programs. Can you bring us up to date on all this excitement?

Justin:  Sure! Yes, It has all been very exciting. The workshops at the MoMA, Studio Museum of Harlem, and Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture have been the most recent classes I have conducted as Workshop Manager of EFA RBPMW.

At MoMA, with the help of print shop artists and MoMA educators, we’ve conducted a series of 16 Monotype workshops, in conjunction with the “Degas: A Strange New Beauty” exhibition.  In each class, 18-20 museum goers had the opportunity to learn the monotype process, similar to the way Degas made his, but with non-toxic materials and water soluble inks. The classes were about an hour and a half, and participants were able to make up to 3 monotypes. We used a small, mobile Conrad etching press that we brought over from RBPMW.

Using the MoMA workshops as a model, I’ve been able to provide similar iterations of these classes to new students.  Most recently I’ve taught monotype to the Schomburg Center Teen Curators as well as pronto plate lithography to 40 participants as part of the “Circa 1970” exhibition at the Studio Museum.

Each workshop has been a great learning experience for myself and all of the parties involved. It’s been really amazing to see how much can be accomplished in a quick, hands on workshop. It’s also been great exposure for RBPMW and the prints that have come from participants have really been impressive.

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Selected Monoprints and Monotypes

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Justin Sanz is an artist and printmaker living and working in New York City. Exhibiting his work nationally and internationally, he is currently the workshop manager and master printer of the EFA Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop. Within this position, he organizes and supervises all of the facilities, education, publishing/contract printing, as well as a diverse community of 250 active members. Justin’s work is in the collections of the Library of Congress, The New York Public Library, The Spencer Museum, and various private collections.

As a master printer, Justin has printed for artists including Malcolm Morley, Amina Robinson, Martin Puryear, Chakaia Booker, Xenobia Bailey, Otto Neals, Frances Jetter, and Donna Diamond. He has also conducted printmaking workshops with The Museum of Modern Art, Studio Museum in Harlem, The Schomburg Center, University of the Phillippines, The Lower Eastside Printshop, Truro Center for the Arts, Printmaking Center of New Jersey, and The Manhattan Graphics Center.

Justin grew up in Bethpage, New York. Both of his parents being artists, he can’t remember a time he wasn’t drawing.  He received his BFA in Printmaking from SUNY Purchase in 2005. After graduation, Justin took on odd jobs including mural painting, assisting, art handling and even worked as the porter for the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts. Shortly after, he helped open the new EFA Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop which has now been his primary printmaking studio for the past 11 years. Justin’s education and experience in EFA RBPMW and seven years of working as an assistant to Malcolm Morley, have contributed greatly to form his aesthetic and view of art.

From 2003-2008 I worked primarily with intricate, multi-color woodblock prints, developing a specific subject matter. After this 5 year period of committing 4-6 months on each piece, I needed a quick way to experiment with different kinds of imagery. I turned to the monotype process as a way to force myself to create images in a single day and deviate from the rigidity of woodcut.

The subject matter of my monotypes range from portraits of friends, satirical interpretations of advertisements/figures in the media, and a series of animals with guns.

My prints that are derived from advertisements and media figures are a direct response to being targeted constantly as a consumer and force-fed images of “perfection” and the “idilic”.  Liberties are taken to express exasperation with unachievable ideals that are instilled at the core of the original imagery and the idols that are created.

For the Animals With Guns series, I have imagined a fantastical narrative that references current issues of war/gun violence and food production. Each animal depicted is a commodity, designed to feed the ever growing needs of their industrialist capitalist society. Both war and the processed food industry sacrifice quality of life for many in exchange for financial gain to the few in control.

Monotype is a very sensitive process and is amazing for recording every interaction with the surface of the plate. The idea of every mark being completely static until it is run through the press, allows a freedom from the preciousness of a mark. This freedom inspires confident actions of the hand and more intuitive mark making. The gestural/spontaneous nature of monotype opened up a world of looseness and immediacy that I now incorporate in all of my work.

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