Today SGC International had planned on joining members of the Puerto Rican and Latin American printmaking communities in San Juan, Puerto Rico for an epic celebration of printmaking. While sadly we remain spread across the world in our homes doing our best to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s a bright spot towards which we can turn our attention—our printmaking spirit has traveled to Puerto Rico in spite of our trying world circumstances. Members and friends of the SGC International (SGCI) community and patrons of the Puerto Rican art community successfully completed a crowdsourcing campaign to raise funds to donate a press to the University of Puerto Rico Recinto de Río Piedras (UPRRP) Printshop. Today, that press is working its way to its new home.
Puerto Rico has a rich printmaking tradition, which draws on the island’s unique history while always being in dialogue with contemporary art. Puertográfico 2020 conference planning began shortly before Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. The SGCI membership saw its devastating effects leveled not only buildings, infrastructure, and the environment, but the economy, citizens’ ways of life, and their sense of security and well-being. Knowing the healing potential of the arts and understanding the circumstances of fellow artists in Puerto Rico, SGCI’s community of printmakers was eager to assist Puerto Rican printmakers as they continued to promote printmaking and its democratic practice as a way to engage with citizens in their communities.
SGCI’s efforts came to fruition under the leadership of Joseph Velasquez, associate professor of art at Florida Atlantic University and chair of the SGCI Ad Hoc Committee on Community Exchange, and the assistance of Hannah March Sanders, associate professor, and Blake Sanders, instructor, both in the Department of Art & Design at Southeast Missouri State University. On a planning visit to Puerto Rico, Mr. Velasquez and fellow printmaker John Hancock, professor of art at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, recognized the great need for a lithography press in the UPRRP printshop, led by Professor Martin García-Rivera. Upon their return the team launched Let’s Leave a Press in Puerto Rico, a crowdfunding campaign. The initiative offered perks including prints donated from well-known professional printmakers and tools and supplies from printmaking vendors. The group also asked school print and art clubs to participate by raising funds in their respective club/school names while SGCI created a portal for donations to the organization earmarked specifically to support the campaign. These collective efforts raised nearly $11,000 in 60 days. These gifts, along with the difference and shipping costs generously donated by the Takach family, enabled the acquisition of a brand new Takach Manufacturing Corporation 2648 Floor Model Lithography Press!
The SGCI Ad Hoc Committee for Community Exchange has continued gathering equipment, tools, and materials from its membership through a registry created understanding the specific needs of Escuela de Artes Plásticas y Diseño and other printmaking programs in the region. SGCI is developing a plan to transport these donations to San Juan where they will be delivered to the programs for which they are intended. https://sokindregistry.org/registry/puertografico
SGCI would like to thank Joseph, John, Hannah, and Blake for the tireless work that they put into making these ideas happen and these gifts a reality. To the Takach family, you are amazing! Your generosity is humbling. We would also like to thank everyone who donated to the press fundraiser and equipment, tools, and materials registry. Thank you for your generosity and for helping SGCI support Puerto Rican printmaking!