Featured Member: Violet Austerlitz Virnig

NAME: Violet Austerlitz Virnig  

PROFESSION?: Artist/cartoonist/screen printer

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF:  I love books and every part of the process of making them. I love to write and draw, but I also love to print and sew bindings and stare at cool cover fabrics and think about the kinds of stories I could put in between them. So at the moment I’m trying to figure out the best way to make the kinds of books I want to make, and what to put in them, and the possibilities are endless and bewildering, and the world has never felt quite so big as it does now. I’m finding an unexpected joy in that.

YOU x YOUR RELATIONSHIP TO PS1: I’m primarily a member of the Iowa City Press Co-Op, and I’ve been one since it was Zenzic Press. As an ICPC member I monitor open hours and teach workshops, but I have also built some shop equipment and helped move the Vandercook letterpress from its old basement home to its new basement home.

THE FIRST IMPRESSION: The first time I can to PS1 I was looking for a studio space, and had some interest in joining Zenzic press and making more prints. What is now the shop space was the main gallery space and there was a kind of immersive installation going on, with the walls painted black and the floor space filled with exploded televisions. I thought “Well, this is weird.” And then I thought, “Good.” It was a sign that this was the kind of place where curiosity and experimentation were as important as execution, and that it was a space to grow in. And it has very much lived up that promise!

THE BEST (AND WORST!?):  I’ve helped bring in a number of Very Heavy Things over the last year or so, which as proved very memorable. Handing a 600 pound piece of steel (the press bed of the Vandercook) through one of the back room windows is probably something of a peak experience. Actually getting the whole press back together and operating as it should is even better.

WHY THE LOVE!?!? The existence of an organization like PS1 has become a really important part of my life. When I graduated from college I was faced with what felt like a vacuum of opportunity to still make art and be part of an artmaking community. PS1 and ICPC have not only filled that gap of shop space, but have given me a way to meet and learn from artists of all kinds in a low-key but deeply committed and curious community environment.

PS1 x FUTURE: I have no idea what PS1 of the future looks like (except perhaps a magical expansion of the Wesley building that allows for more studios, etc.), except that it will still be at the nexus of the lives of Iowa City’s many art-makers and thing-doers, forming a malestrom of creativity, skill-sharing, and dumplings.