March 2013


 “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
– Theodore Roosevelt


Theodore Roosevelt’s words perfectly capture the do-it-yourself (D.I.Y.) spirit that is the subject of the MMAA Project Space’s new exhibition, D.I.Y. Printing: Presses Not Required. The message is clear: don’t wait around for the perfect conditions to do something, for they may never materialize. Do it now, and make it work. Think about the last time you thought, I could do that better. Did you? Regardless of whether it’s about recreating a salad that you had at a restaurant or starting a new business, D.I.Y.’ers act on that thought. I can and will make it better!


It is an inspiring message and call to action, and one that the Minnesota Museum of American Art identifies with. Rather than working behind the scenes to unveil the completely finished museum, we opened up the MMAA Project Space in the middle of a construction zone that takes up half a city block. But that’s okay, because we can still connect with the community through unique exhibitions and engaging programs. We would have missed out on so many meaningful interactions if we had waited to open to the public until construction was complete. A willingness to embrace contingency and strike out in new directions is absolutely necessary to D.I.Y., and to the Minnesota Museum of American Art.


It might seem odd for an art museum to do an exhibition on D.I.Y. printing. After all, if anyone can do it, is it really art? That’s one way to see it, but the question of art-vs.-not-art is not what this show is really about. D.I.Y. Printing: Presses Not Required came about when MMAA Curator of Engagement Christina Chang came across the group Screen Printing on the Cheap (SPOTC) in research on hands-on projects for museum programs.


Christina was intrigued by their mission to make the art of screen printing more accessible to the community, not only by publishing a book that teaches you how to set up a screen printing studio in your own home, but by also building a mobile printing unit to bring the studio to you. Their willingness to share knowledge rather than hold it close to their chests represents what they call a “new school” of art that is more accessible and engaging. I don’t think SPOTC would object if we declared that we too were part of that new school. After all, it’s about inclusivity, not exclusivity. We’re all in it together, so let’s pool our resources and start making things happen. These are the lessons we hope you take away with you from D.I.Y. Printing.


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Image courtesy of screenprintingonthecheap.com.

D.I.Y Printing Opening Reception

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