Peach Press hopes to elevate underrepresented voices
by Nico Wilkinson May 03, 2017
The home of local artist and organizer Han Sayles has recently become the base of operations for Peach Press. Sayles, manager of the former Mountain Fold Books, and fellow printmaker Peyton Kay Davis (who also contributes to this column) founded Peach Press with the vision of creating "a radical small press dedicated to publishing writers and artists who have been historically marginalized." I recently had the pleasure of visiting their makeshift studio and seeing the two at work on one of the posters for their upcoming show, First Taste, while chatting with them about their inspiration and plans for the future of Peach Press.
Sayles and Davis started printing together over the course of publishing Inauguration, a book I co-authored with CC professor and poet Idris Goodwin. After many long hours spent in the studio late into the night, it became clear that they had a similar passion for printmaking. According to Sayles: "We were both elated to be printing what we were printing. I think it's unique to find someone else who wants to hole themselves up for 40 hours in a weekend." Davis adds: "We put the art first."
While their work ethics might be similar, the two come from different academic and artistic backgrounds. Davis hails from a fine arts background with a specialty in printmaking, whereas Sayles comes from a background of comparative literature and feminism, and her education in printmaking has come from mentors in Colorado Springs. However, these differences are complementary rather than detrimental. "[Peach Press relies] on the connections I've built through community-building and Peyton's expertise with printmaking to make this happen," says Sayles.
The recent political climate has created an impetus for the publication of underrepresented voices, and is one of the reasons for Peach Press' inception. They wanted to make a contribution to the resistance. "Sharing narratives from people who often aren't invited to the table was the most important thing we could do to try and rewrite the narrative of the country," says Sayles. "This is our way of taking action," adds Davis.
First Taste will be an effort to jumpstart Peach Press' work by providing artists the ability to publish their work — visual art, plus small runs of text, such as short fiction or poetry collections — inexpensively through a sort of micro-grant.
They hope to raise enough money from this show to fund the first of these projects: a comic by Rosa Byun (another Queer & There contributor). Peach Press was also fortunate enough to receive a grant from the Pikes Peak Arts Council, which should aid in their long-term goals of eventually having their own studio and holding classes to spread printmaking to the masses.
According to Davis, "Peach Press is really striving for the DIY aspect of printmaking... There are certain processes like lino and silkscreen that are really accessible to people and aren't as expensive as people may think it is. We created an exposure unit with $25. We want to make what we're doing within our budget but also learn to create things that we can show other people, and spread that message. This is a great artform for that... For me, it's about breaking the barrier of higher education."
Peach Press came from an impulse that many of us have felt in recent months — the need to stand up in the face of injustice and do something. When Sayles went to the LA Art Book Fair, she noticed a staggering lack of diversity in the work displayed. She wanted to see a change in the way marginalized voices were represented.
"We still have a dire need for an intersectional approach to understanding difference in this country and that's what we're trying to provide," Sayles says.
If the recent increase in protests and civic engagement is any indication, people across the country have felt a similar hope for change. Sayles' solution: "If something needs to be done, you should do it."
You can follow along with Sayles and Davis' work at peachpress.org and you can get a "first taste" of Peach Press at their upcoming show at Ladyfingers Letterpress, 113 E. Bijou St. The opening reception will be on May 5, starting at 5 p.m. Sayles and Davis will give an artist talk and introduction to their work at 6:15. Come out and support this small press, which is sure to make big changes for a lot of artists in our city.