December 19, 2019
Kellee Morgado graduated from Appalachian State University with a BFA in graphic design in December 2017. The following March, Morgado was selected to be the Black Rock Press Redfield Fellow in Reno, Nevada from August 2018 to August 2020. Black Rock Press is located within the Art Department at the University of Nevada, Reno and is an active letterpress printing and publishing entity focusing on the book as art, craft, and concept. As well as publishing a range of literary, visual, and experimental materials, Black Rock Press also teaches several classes each semester, introducing students to the book and publication arts techniques and intellectual disciplines. The Press collaborates with various other UNR departments as well as the local Reno arts community.
At Black Rock Press, Morgado assists with daily studio activities which include studio maintenance, assisting with letterpress classes, holding lab monitor hours, and helping with creative direction and production of works such as broadsides, exhibition design, artist books, and printed ephemera. In exchange, Morgado has 24 hour access to the Black Rock Press and its printing equipment including, but not limited to, five Vandercook letterpresses, multiple guillotine cutters, two Chandler & Price clamshell presses, a Heidelberg windmill, a Super Royal Columbian hand press, and an extensive collection of wood and metal type, borders, ornaments, and cuts. Morgado is also given a personal studio space in which to work outside of the Press.
One of the first Black Rock Press projects that Morgado worked on was a type specimen book that catalogued all the metal type currently in Black Rock’s cases. This project had been underway for many years before Morgado took over. Each typeface had been handset and most had been proofed when Morgado picked up the project. She set and proofed any remaining typefaces, identified some that were previously not known, and carefully checked each proof for errors. The type specimen book is letterpress printed and hand sewn in an edition of 30 and includes 139 metal typefaces, a handful of metal rule and ornaments, and a small selection of wood type.
Books such as these are not only collectible, but are a valuable source of reference for students. Having such book accessible to faculty, staff, volunteers and students makes it easier to select a typeface for a project, but most importantly, helps in distributing lost sorts to their respective cases, keeping the collection organized and accurate. Working analog with typefaces has been informative and complementary to Morgado’s undergraduate education and digital experience with typography.
Morgado’s fellowship culminates in her own artist book edition that is supported by Black Rock Press in an edition of fifty books. The contents of such books are currently being developed and explore the topic of body hair. The work began from a simple comment, “don’t cut your hair, it’s beautiful” and expands upon this statement in an effort to disrupt and explore the relationship between hair that is considered valuable and that which must be hidden, removed, and made invisible.
The work explores hair as both a material and a concept through experimental printing processes. Hair is modified using aggressive additive and subtractive rituals commonly associated with hair including dying, bleaching, and epilating. With hair unattached to its respective bodies, its value shifts. It becomes the imperfections in a clean sink, a line left behind on the pillow, a beloved keepsake, a memorial, and a commodity. Giving hair value off the body through contextualizing it as art is not new, rather this work adds to this ongoing conversation though consideration of which hair is worthy of value and being seen as art. The work is currently on display in Gallery West at the McKinley Arts & Culture Center in Reno, NV.
Morgado’s artist book edition will archive these works, further iterations of hair art, and the collection of information surrounding body hair through research and shared personal experiences. Morgado anticipates the book’s production to involve both digital and letterpress printing and is expected to be completed in the Spring of 2020. To see more of Morgado’s work, you can visit her website at www.kelleemorgado.com or find her on Instagram @kelleemorgado to follow her process on her artist book.