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Black Rock Press

Black Rock Press ink


The Black Rock Press is a unique place and program that is committed to advancing the art of the book while educating students and the broader community about book arts as both a historical and contemporary medium. It is a classroom where courses are taught in both the book arts and the graphic arts. Additionally, it functions as a publishing entity focusing on the book as art, craft, and concept. Located within the Art Department at the University of Nevada, Reno, the Black Rock Press is a working museum with printing presses that span the centuries. Cases of metal and wood type live alongside computers and other digital media used in our teaching, publishing, research, and outreach programs.  


The Black Rock Press seeks to preserve the history and traditions of the art of the book while turning a creative and critical eye toward its relevance in contemporary art and culture. Our focus is on thinking through making. We practice the traditions of fine printing, typography, and hand binding while considering the abilities of new media to express content and meaning. We aim to teach and publish a range of literary, visual, and experimental materials addressing the evolving nature of the book - striving to investigate the potential of the physical book in diverse environments. Of the many ways that currently exist to communicate, archive, and disseminate information, the book continues to provide a unique context. The book offers an environment that is naturally conducive to a wide range of interdisciplinary and mixed media approaches fostering both traditional and experimental explorations, exchanges, and collaborations. We continue to collaborate with local, state, regional, and national poets, writers and artists, while extending our exchanges to broader interdisciplinary works in the publication arts. The intent is to produce work that explores the unique potential that is the social life of the book. The production of the book itself, its means of dissemination, and the celebration of its content become axis points for building a caring and engaged community. The Black Rock Press aspires to serve as a vital link between the University and the greater Reno community.  


That Was Then

The Black Rock Press was founded by Kenneth J. Carpenter in 1965. After Ken's retirement in 1980, Bob Blesse directed the activities of the Press for over thirty years. Dedicated to the practice and teaching of the art, craft, and history of the creation of finely printed books, the Press has a national reputation for outstanding work and has become a living museum of traditional printing technology. The Press houses numerous type cabinets filled with metal and wood type and a number of historically significant printing presses. Its centerpiece, a gilded 1837 super-royal Columbian, is one of the finest examples of a 19th century iron handpress to be found in the United States. Along with limited edition letterpress printed books by authors such as Gary Snyder and Steven Nightingale, the Press has published books of contemporary writing by both emerging and established writers for its Rainshadow Editions series. Blood Sister I am to These Fields, by Linda Hussa, won three major awards as poetry book of the year in 2002. The Press has also produced numerous letterpress printed broadsides representing work by noted American writers including Alan Ginsberg, Hayden Carruth, Gretel Ehrlich, Paul Zarzyski, and former U.S. Poets Laureate Billy Collins and Robert Pinsky. 

This is Now

The Black Rock Press is currently under the direction of Inge Bruggeman, Assistant Professor and Director of Graphic Arts, and Amy Thompson, Administrative Faculty and Manager of the Press. In addition to overseeing the activities of the Press, they each teach undergraduate and graduate courses within the Art Department. For the past several years the Press has also benefited from a fellowship program generously supported by the Nell J. Redfield Foundation. Jaime Shafer, the current fellow, has come to the Black Rock Press after finishing her MA in Art and the Book at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design in Washington D.C.     

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