The Valentine Exchange was born in the winter of 1999 in the chilly environs of the Typeshop at RISD, where Heather Watkins was teaching a course called 'Hot Printing' (basic letterpress printing). As the end of the term coincided with the Valentine's Day holiday, she assigned a final group print exchange, recalling the elementary school practice of exchanging valentines with the entire class. To expand the project, Watkins invited artists and writers from other disciplines and outside the school to participate in the exchange.
The project's homebase migrated west in 2002, and has continued to draw participants from around the country working in a wide range of creative disciplines—book arts, paper making, fiber arts, drawing, painting,
printmaking, photography, writing, metalsmithing, sculpture, glass and
ceramics. Every winter, Watkins specifies dimensions for the valentines and
sends out invitations for participation. Once all the editions have arrived,
she collates and packages them in custom-designed cases, returning a full set
to each artist. An additional set is donated to the Artist's Book Collection at
Rhode Island School of Design each year as well.
Now in its sixth year, this exhibition of The Valentine Exchange is the first public viewing of the project on the west coast. This year's edition will number 40.
For the past four years she taught design and typography as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Art Department at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. Her previous teaching experience includes an Instructorship in graphic design at the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University, as well as courses and workshops in graphic design, letterpress printing, bookbinding, and photography at RISD, Massachusetts College of Art, and Oregon College of Art and Craft.
She received an MFA in graphic design from the Rhode Island School of Design and holds a Bachelor of Arts from Pitzer College in English and World Literature; and Classical Studies with an emphasis in Art and Archaeology.
The Hauser Memorial Library is open to the public during the school year (beginning August 29) from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Sunday. The Library is closed for certain holidays. Library hours may be confirmed on the web at: LIBRARY HOURS.