Black Rock Press
The Black Rock Press preserves the history and traditions of the art of the book while simultaneously turning a creative and critical eye toward its relevance in contemporary art and culture. Its publishing and outreach activities support and strengthen the academic pursuits at its heart, connecting students to local and global communities.
The Black Rock Press resides in the Art Department of the University of Nevada, Reno and 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. The Press' publishing and outreach activities are integrated with the graphic arts curriculum. Historical printing equipment lives alongside computers and other digital media used in our teaching, publishing, research and outreach programs. The Press also benefits from a fellowship program generously supported by the Nell J. Redfield Foundation.
Founded in 1965 by Kenneth J. Carpenter, the Black Rock Press has focused on the practice and teaching of the art, craft and history of the creation of finely printed books. The Press is a working museum of traditional printing technology. It houses numerous type cabinets filled with metal and wood type and a number of historically significant presses. Its gilded 1837 super royal Columbian, is one of the finest examples of a 19th century iron handpress to be found in the United States. In 1980, Bob Blesse took over directing the activities of the Press. Over the course of 30 years, he expanded the area of publication into finely produced editions of creative writing and poetry. The Press gained a national reputation for outstanding, award-winning work, in the publication of books and broadsides by authors such as Hayden Carruth, Gretel Ehrlich, Alan Ginsberg, Linda Hussa, Gailmarie Pahmeier, Emma Sepulveda, Gary Snyder, Paul Zarzyski, and former U.S. Poets Laureate Billy Collins and Robert Pinsky.
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 an engaged community. The Black Rock Press aspires to serve as a vital link between the University and the greater Reno community.
- Through its instructional programs, the Press introduces students to graphic arts techniques and intellectual disciplines involved with the creation of books and other printed matter. Students are encouraged to develop an appreciation of the book as a special kind of object whose form can help reveal its contents.
- Its instructional programs educate students about the economic and professional possibilities within, and related to, the field of book arts and graphic arts.
- The Black Rock Press is committed to advancing the art of the book. Offering an environment that is naturally conducive to a wide range of interdisciplinary and mixed media approaches, the Press fosters explorations, exchanges, and collaborations using both traditional and experimental methods.
- Through our outreach projects, we educate students and the broader community about book arts as both a historical tradition and a contemporary artistic medium - while acknowledging the central role the book has played throughout history in the diffusion of knowledge and the development of civilization.
- We look to collaborate with other individuals and departments on campus as well as in the greater community. We continue to collaborate with state, regional and national poets, writers and artists, while extending our exchanges to broader interdisciplinary works in the publication arts.
- The Black Rock Press is a publishing entity focusing on the book as art, craft and concept. 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.
- Our focus is on thinking through making. We practice the traditions of fine printing, typography, illustration, graphic design, printmaking, papermaking and bookbinding among others, while considering the abilities of new media to express content and meaning. Of the many ways that currently exist to communicate, archive, and disseminate information, the book continues to provide a unique context.