06/07/2023 3:32 pm
By Sara Myers, Digital Media & Communications Specialist
Rockford University Associate Professor of Art David Menard said he never thought he would become as ingrained in the Rockford Community as he has, but his work — particularly with art collective Fatherless Print Posse — has made him a staple in the Rockford art scene, and globally.
When Menard is not teaching Rockford University art classes, he spends some of his leisure time working with the local art collaboration group. Fatherless Print Posse is known for its live printmaking shows and exhibits.
He’s currently preparing for Friday’s free show and opening night for Fatherless’ newest exhibit titled, “Constant Pressure,” which will take place from 5- 8 p.m. at the Rockford Art Museum, located at 711 N. Main St. in Rockford.
“We’re calling it a visual exploration of identity activism and collaboration because all of us use printmaking in some way to talk about social issues or whatever the situation,” Menard said.
The artist and educator didn’t know that he would end up in Rockford, but the one thing that has always been certain is his passion for art. The Arlington Heights, Ill. native said he quickly realized his love of drawing at a young age. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Kansas City Art Institute and Master’s of Fine Arts from University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“I came here and became part of the community, which I didn’t really see happening,” Menard said, adding that now everyone is connected.
“Some of the people (his former students) that were in my classes are now teaching my kids. The math teacher at Guilford was one of my former students and now he’s teaching my kids.”
Prior to joining the Rockford University Art Department, Menard worked mainly in the Chicagoland area, although he had opportunities across the country. He said he chose to stay in the Midwest.
It was at a teaching conference in New York City where Menard said he met former RU Art professor Bob McCauley. That’s when he learned about a temporary job opening that needed to be filled for one year.
The opportunity became his and he accepted. After the year, Menard returned back to the Chicago printmaking industry. A few years later he was hired back at RU when McCauley told Menard he was retiring. Since 2006, Menard has taught classes on painting, drawing, and printmaking at RU.
In 2012, Menard was invited to give a talk on his experience in printmaking at the Rockford Art Museum. After his lecture, he was approached by three local artists Greg Lang, Javier Jimenez, and Jarrod Hennis. The three men told Menard they were into printmaking and had their own studio they worked at, where they invited him to stop by.
“I came by their shop and they were t-shirt guys who used screen printing to make t-shirts,” Menard said. “They were doing these one offs where they would all get together and they would print on fallen wood or paper or one guy jumped up and took his shirt off and they printed on his belly.”
The guys asked him to do a “guest spot” at the shop and he quickly became part of the group, Menard said.
The name Fatherless comes from a quote from American rapper Ol’ Dirty Bastard, and was the other members’ idea before Menard joined, he said.
“It doesn’t come from one single source,” Menard said, about the art the group makes. “The style doesn’t have a father. It was born in the street, and when I’m gone it will still be on the street. There’s no father on my side of the street. When we do it all together, it’s like a band.”
He adds that the shows are now one after another. Fatherless has been to Chicago, Milwaukee, Miami, Los Angeles and also to London, where they met now-member Ben Rider. Hennis is no longer part of the group now.
Fatherless’ art can be seen on the streets of London and in downtown Rockford in murals.
“Javier has been screen printing since he was a teenager on his mother’s kitchen table,” he said. “Greg has his degree in Graphic Design. My degree is in printing. The three of us together, formed this team. We take on these ambitious projects that none of us by ourselves could do.”
Rider recently came into town from the U.K. to help create work for their upcoming show at the Rockford Art Museum (RAM).
Fatherless has also invited other artists to be involved in the show as well. Artists include Aida Wilde, Atlan Arceo-Witzl, Chema Skandal!, Ganzeer, Jesse Shaw, Liz Born, and Nicole Marrozuin. The exhibit will end Sept. 24.
Learn more at RockfordArtMuseum.org.
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