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“Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr.: Citizen Printer” Runs June 29, 2024 – January 2025

The major solo exhibition features over 150 type-driven artifacts from the self-described “humble negro printer”. Join us on July 20 for an opening reception with Kennedy and curator Kelly Walters.

Through the use of bold language, graphic typography, and colorful layers, Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr.’s prints embody an intensity that catches the eye and provokes the mind. He is extremely outspoken about the impact of white supremacy and racism. These themes are reflected in Kennedy’s work and encompass the evolving trajectory of Black liberation in the United States. From growing up in the 1960s during the Civil Rights Era, to the rise of Black Nationalism in the 1970s, to the present Post-Civil Rights era, Kennedy has seen how these movements shaped Black identity in the United States and has drawn from this as inspiration.

Kennedy in his Detroit printshop, 2021. Photo by Garrett MacLean.

Curated by designer and author Kelly Walters, Letterform Archive’s exhibition includes a wide variety of printed artifacts such as broadsides, maps, church fans, handbills and oversized posters produced throughout Kennedy’s career. Along with his’s signature prints, the show features a few lesser-known artist’s books that showcase Kennedy’s early start with letterpress printing and bookbinding. Together, these works demonstrate the rich cultural traditions of Black printing and the importance of Black authorship.

Selected objects from Citizen Printer
All work by Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr. Click or tap to see larger images and captions.

The exhibition shows how various methods of letterpress printing can be used as forms of activism. Guests will learn how Kennedy builds his practice through the production of personal work, commercial printing, and community-based projects.

The book, Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr.: Citizen Printer, features photography by Aundre Larrow.
Citizen Printer. Hardcover, 276 pages, 9 × 12 inches, 800+ images, 4 colors throughout.

Kennedy’s iconic typographic voice is also documented in the exhibition’s companion publication, Citizen Printer, which describes his analog techniques as an anchor to the past:

Kennedy’s work presents us with questions about the United States’ claims to liberty and justice for all, which are fraught with contradiction and have never been fully realized … Whether Kennedy is printing one of his populist proverbs or a more confrontational call for justice, he is channeling the power of 200 years of abolitionist craft.

As a vital monograph, Citizen Printer features more than 800 reproductions representing the breadth of Kennedy’s letterpress prints (including rarely seen artist’s books), plus original portraiture of the maker at work, a powerful manifesto, and a foreword by New York Times bestselling author Austin Kleon, all presented in a dynamic and type-forward design from AIGA medalist Gail Anderson and Joe Newton.

Advance copies of the book will be available at the opening reception on July 20, 2024. Preorders for domestic and international shipments begin July 23.