New Jersey based artist and master printer, Eileen Foti is this week’s guest blogger for our Artist as Collector Series.

I have been a Master Printer and an Assistant Professor for the last 25 years.  Both of these jobs are incredibly demanding, artistically, physically, and emotionally.  A Master Printer’s job to collaborate with artists to produce and edition of prints.  It means getting inside the heads of artists, crawling around, and “seeing” their visions for the images.  Then we have to extract that vision from the artist’s head and turn it into something tangible.  We have to be chameleons, keeping the style consistent with the artists, keeping our own style and aesthetics out of the work, and knowing what they want, even when they don’t.  

Printing with 30 pound rollers, cranking a pressbed through dozens of times a day, lifting vats of wet pulp and carrying them across the mill require physical stamina.  Coupled with the responsibility of producing work for someone else, for holding someone else’s “baby” in your hands, it is a great responsibility.  

Being a good teacher means helping your students find solutions to their creative problems, and hoping that they will one day be better than you.  

At the end of the day, I have used all of my creative energy supporting the artistic pursuits of others, and sometimes it is hard to muster up the strength to think about making my own work. So in my home I surround myself with another type of “art.”  

“I collect milagros, specifically sacred hearts from around the world. “

 Milagro is the Spanish word for miracle.  They take the form of little tin, silver, brass or wooden amulets, among other materials.  They can be hearts, eyes, legs, organs, cows, chickens, houses, etc. People make pilgrimages to their churches and bring milagros to lay on the alter or to pin onto the robe of a statue of their patron Saints. They then pray for healing; to fix the broken heart, cure the cancer, deliver a safe baby for their loved ones or for themselves. To me, this is a comforting and lovely tradition. 

 I look at prints all day, so it makes me happy to look at milagros when I get home at night.

Eileen Foti is an artist, master printer, teaching artist who has exhibited and traveled world wide. She is also the co-producer and screen writer of the award winning film A Ripple in the Water: Healing Through Art.

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