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Dustin Farnsworth: January Letterpress Resident

Dustin at work on the press, proofing a print.

January print resident Dustin Farnsworth is having a pretty good year. He earned his BFA in woodworking and functional art, with a minor in printmaking, from Kendall College of Art and Design in May, and won a Windgate Fellowship, which he’s using to move to Asheville and work for three or more established makers in wood and steel over the course of a year – the grant money pays his way while he gives his labor to the artists. So far, the established makers he’s assisted have been Stoney Lamar, for whom he fabricated steel components in preparation for a lifetime achievement award show at SOFA, and Brent Skidmore, for whom he built 13 mirrors. In the spring, he’ll be working on large-scale furniture pieces with Sylvie Rosenthal.

To feed the print-centered side of his artistic life alongside all of this three-dimensional work, he’s also made time this year for a short printmaking residency at Kendall (in Grand Rapids, Michigan), where he assisted a class, and for Penland’s two-week January letterpress residency. “I’m pretty balanced between woodworking and printmaking,” he says. “I have a hard time distinguishing between the two. Mark-making is the thread that runs between both.”

The Penland residency was Dustin’s first opportunity to work in letterpress. He’s always been fascinated by the letterpress as an object – the machine, the wood type, the history of the medium – so he was excited to get to use one. “It’s all so beautiful,” he enthuses. “There are lots of kinetics in my sculpture; it’s very gearhead influenced. Letterpress is a good combination of that and printing.”

Dustin enjoying the view from the letterpress studio as he considers his next move. He arrived at Penland with a full beard, but it got full of ink and he shaved it off.

Dustin also enjoyed the chance to work more on just one thing at a time than ever before. He arrived with a very specific plan for his work, which he then veered away from unexpectedly as the two-week residency progressed. “It’s phenomenal to to be stuck in the mountains in the middle of nowhere and still be able  to work 16 hours a day,” he reflects. He’d like to come back next winter and rent the studio for a longer period. Between now and then, it’s back to Asheville to carry on with the next phase of the Windgate project. He’s also applied for a residency at Arrowmont, and will be teaching two classes this summer at Princeton Secondary School in New Jersey. He’ll have work in a group show at Blue Spiral 1 over the summer and will show there again in a split exhibition next January. “I have a lot of work to do before then,” he says.

You can learn more about Dustin and see pictures of his work by clicking here to visit his website.