The Quiet Strength of Hannaher’s Studio

PAIGE JOHNSON | The Spectrum 
Amanda Heidt has been managing Hannaher’s Studio ever since she graduated from MSUM with a BFA in printmaking in 2012.

For 20 years, Hannaher’s Print Studio has remained tucked away in the third floor of the Plains Art Museum.

Quiet and serene, the room looks like an art studio should: works are pinned to the walls, messy supplies are lined on shelves, papers are stacked on any and every surface. The remains of current projects are haphazardly displayed on a table in the back of the room. The entire space is the epitome of organized chaos.

Managing this space is Minnesota State University – Moorhead graduate Amanda Heidt. Since August of 2013, Heidt has been using the space and expanding its capabilities.

“I had graduated and was still in town. I’d done various internships out in New York and I just wanted to settle down for about a year,” Heidt said. “I was a printer without a press, basically, and I was going crazy. I approached the museum about letting me just take a couple days a week to be up here and work on my own stuff. I’d leave the door open. It just kind of snowballed since then.”

In 1997, Hannaher’s Studio opened under the direction of master printer Steve Anderson.

“From what I’ve read about him, he created almost a renaissance in the Midwest for printmaking,” Heidt said.

Printing studios are a rare occurrence in museum settings. After Anderson set up the studio, the museum began a residency program that allowed artists, both national and international, to live in Fargo and work in the studio.

In 2005, the studio was closed due to a lack of funding. Then in 2006, Heidt’s mentor and MSUM professor reopened the studio on a limited basis.

“He took it over as an educational tool so that his upper division printmaking students could come in and work and just spoil themselves. To be able to work in your own studio and claim it as yours for four months throughout the semester,” said Heidt, who participated in this opportunity. “The goal was that the door was open, guests could come in and talk, and the intern had to be open to speaking about different printmaking processes.”

In 2013, when Heidt took over the space, it was again not being used. The printmaker revitalized the studio, making it a resource for local printmakers, anyone interested in printmaking and as an educational space.

The studio hosts classes and intensive weekend workshops for youth and adults. It also offers contract printing to artists who are looking to make a fine art edition, but need Heidt’s expertise to make it happen.

Currently, Heidt and Hannaher’s Studio are working on a few major projects. First, Heidt is creating one-of-a-kind thank you cards for donations after Giving Hearts Day. She’s also working on prints for the upcoming Plains Art Museum Gala in May.

Finally, Heidt is working with regional artists Peter Kelly, Wayne Goodmanson and a ceramic artist at MSUM on a variety of projects.

By far, though, the biggest success Heidt has seen at Hannaher’s has been Printober, an exploration of printmaking throughout the month of October.

Heidt and another printmaker, Eric Johnson, who is currently in residence at Renaissance Hall at PEARs, spearheaded Printober. They hosted artist talks, brought in master printmakers from around the country and state, and created a tri-college print exchange that included not only current students, but also alumni. They also brought in an exhibition from the High Plains Center for Printmaking for the month of October.

PAIGE JOHNSON | The Spectrum 
While the processes are modernized, manager Amanda Heidt knows how to use the newer presses as well as the old presses from the early 1900s.

“I think it’s just being able to create these small opportunities for not only regional artists, but then because the museum is so supportive, that we were able to bring in shows like the High Plains Center for Printmaking, but have it be in October,” Heidt said. “It’s just recognizing that the space is unique and being a regional resource.”

Despite it’s 20 years of history and technological resources, the biggest contributor to the success of the print studio has been Heidt’s unwavering love for printmaking and her ability to transform the space into an energetic, thriving print studio.

Heidt originally went to MSUM for art history. But all that changed when she took an introduction to printmaking class.

“I took printmaking and it was all over. Halfway through the semester I was like, ‘I’m not going to not ever work with my hands again,'” she laughed. “I switched my major halfway through my introduction to printmaking class where I was only introduced to three processes and I was like, ‘This is amazing!’ From there, I just hit the ground running. I would say I’ve been doing printmaking for probably about eight or nine years now.”

Heidt works at Hannaher’s throughout the day, but is also an artist in resident at the PEARs studio at Renaissance Hall. There, she works on her personal artwork. In both spaces, she continues to learn about printmaking, not only for her own enjoyment but also so she can be a resource for anyone and everyone interested in printmaking.

She stays up-to-date with new printmaking processes, networks within the community as well as within the nation to garner more opportunities for the studio, and continues to offer classes so that others can learn about the art-form she loves.

“I am just a hopeless romantic for printmaking. I sound like a geek no matter how I talk about it.” she laughed. “I think that printmaking is constantly changing. There’s constantly new materials being presented each year, so it’s a matter of learning about it and then using it.”

Currently, Hannaher’s does five different processes, each involving different matrixes: lithography, monotypes, intaglio, mezzotint and screen-printing. Heidt’s also working on incorporating letterpress. But right now, they only have a small letterpress to work with.

“With each project, I’m always just pleasantly surprised,” Heidt said with a smile. “I think that’s part of my awkward enthusiasm toward printmaking. I feel that, no matter how much I plan something out, every time something is pulled, I’m like a kid in a candy store. I’m like, ‘This is amazing!’ Even though I know exactly how it’s going to print, it’s still just magic to me. It really is.”

To learn more about Hannaher’s Studio and to see classes they offer, visit the Plains Art Museum website.

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