During Wintersession 1999, graduate student Heather Watkins (MFA GD ’00) taught a Hot Printing class for non-majors. As a class project, she initiated the Valentine Exchange, where students in the class and other invited participants were given an assignment to make valentines measuring 4 inches by 4 inches in a limited edition, ie. one for each participant and an extra one for the RISD Library’s set. Letterpress printing or any other kind of printing methods could be employed and materials of any sort were encouraged. The first year one of the Valentines was a slab of raw meat, though this element is not included in the Library’s set.
At the end of the class, which took place around the time of Valentine’s Day, a party was held and all the editioned Valentines were exchanged so that each participant had a complete set. A special box or container was made during the party to enclose the Valentines.
The first year was such a success that Heather organized another Valentine Exchange the following year in 2000.
What was started at RISD has become a kind of tradition that Heather has spread across the country to Oregon where she now lives and teaches. For several years she has graciously sent us sets of Valentines made post-RISD. You may come and view these fascinating conceptual Valentines in Special Collections, any hours we are open.
There are many facets of love and equally as many ways of expressing it. How will you show your love this Valentine’s Day?