This article was originally published in PennCurrent, 03/31/2016. It can be viewed here in its original form. 

Penn’s letterpress printing studio, the Common Press, an interdisciplinary approach to teaching and collaborative work, is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

An upcoming Van Pelt Library exhibit opening on Monday, April 4, “Common Press at 10,” will feature items printed on the 19th century press using wood and metal type, as well as silkscreening, etching, and digital image-making.

Created in 2006 on the 300th anniversary of Benjamin Franklin’s birth, the Common Press is a partnership between PennDesign, the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, and Kelly Writers House to give students an opportunity to work in a mixed-media environment.

The goal always has been to integrate students in the production,” says Matt Neff, co-founder of the Common Press and a printmaking lecturer at PennDesign. “There are always students involved and around with those discussions and helping with the printing as a way to bring more people in and to see how these presses are still relevant and still produce contemporary work.”

“A big part of the Press is the social quality of it,” says David Comberg, Common Press co-founder and a PennDesign senior lecturer. “Most of the people who are printing are printing with other people and there’s a real camaraderie in printmaking.”

The exhibit will feature items such as Kelly Writers House posters for events, a project called “A La Carte,” a series of 22 cards with recipes selected from the Penn Libraries’ cookbook collections, and Spring Fling posters created by students on the Social Planning and Events Committee along with the Common Press staff.

Also on display will be Neff’s portfolio of prints he produced from original 1920’s wood engraving blocks from the Wharton Esherick Museum in Paoli, Pa. Neff created the prints for Penn’s 2010 exhibit honoring the artist, "Wharton Esherick and the Birth of the American Modern."

“Common Press at 10” will be on display in the Kamin Gallery in Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center until Sept. 2. 

The Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday-Friday, and by prior arrangement Saturday and Sunday. (215-898-7088 or

The exhibit is free and open to the public. A photo ID is required to enter Van Pelt.

A symposium on the Common Press will be held at the Library on Wednesday, April 20. The event is free, but registration is required.

Originally published on Thursday, March 31, 2016.