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Case works program current exhibtion

The Valentine Exchange
February 1—April 5, 2006
Guest curator: Heather Watkins

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.



As with many other collective art exchanges, The Valentine Exchange is a privately-initiated project that brings people together to exchange ideas, material explorations, and a small sampling of their work. Over 100 objects nowcomprise the collection as a whole, reflecting a multitude of responses to the theme of Valentine's Day.

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.

Curator's Biography
Heather Watkins is an artist and designer whose work runs from professional book and print design, to more personal, experimental and exploratory applications of the book form, printed matter, sculpture, and fibers. Her artist's books, drawings, and sculptural installations draw upon many disciplines, including textiles and printmaking.

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.

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