Instructor Spotlight: Lara Henderson

Instructor Spotlight: Lara Henderson

Lara Henderson is a book artist, a printmaker, and a teacher. She holds degrees in Graphic Design and Letterform and Book Arts/Printmaking. As AS220’s Industries Director, Henderson oversees the printshop and media arts facilities and teaches classes. We talked with Henderson to find out why she’s hooked on books and what she loves about AS220.    

What is your artistic background?
I am a printmaker and a book artist. I studied graphic design at University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, and every assignment I got, I always found a way to turn it into a book. I loved everything about the book: designing, planning the structure and binding, printing and producing multiple copies.

After undergrad I moved up to Vermont and began working as a toy designer. I knew of a masters program in Philadelphia that was just focused on making books. After three years in Vermont, I decided it was time for a change, so I relocated to Philadelphia to study there. It was the most amazing two years and I produced a large body of work during that time. I now print and make books out of the AS220 printshop and paint with encaustics in my studio.

How did you get involved with AS220?
After I finished graduate school, I needed printing and binding equipment and I suddenly found myself without access to those tools. I began researching cities that were affordable and that had a publicly accessible printshop. AS220 had amazing facilities and would also allow me to teach book arts, so I relocated to Providence. After a year of volunteering, I applied for the position running the printshop, a position I have now held for three years.

What are you currently working on?
I am working on a large print that is hand cut from rubylith. It’s an amazing process that I learned from Ian Cozzens in a class that he teaches at the print shop. I am also in the beginning process of a new artist book. I am going to be teaching more in the fall so I am working on some new structures and handouts.

How did you get into book arts?
My seventh grade Spanish teacher taught me how to make a book out of a sheet of paper. I went home that night and just kept making the same book over and over again. With just a few simple folds and cuts, I could transform a piece of paper into a book. I also liked the repetition of making multiples. It wasn’t until high school, when a friend taught me how to make zines, that I starting putting content in my books. Around that same time, I learned how to use Photoshop and Illustrator.

What can students expect to learn in your Intro to Book Arts class? 
We do a variety of book forms, starting with that same book that my seventh grade Spanish teacher taught me, and work our way up to some more complicated books. The class ends with a long stitch sewn journal, which is a book form that combines of all of the skills participants have learned in the class.

What is your favorite part about teaching the class?
I love when teachers take my class, I often get students that are teachers at local middle schools, who want to take this skill and use it as part of their lesson plans. Knowing that these skills are going to be passed on to children in their classrooms makes me happy.

What do you do when you’re not at AS220?
I try to go down the Cape as often as I can. I have recently gotten into kayaking and I am trying to enjoy every moment of the short-lived New England summers.

Interested in making zines, journals, or hardcover books? Check out Henderson’s course offerings here.