Colorado College Graphic Research Lab (GRL)

Encourage makers.
Provoke ideas.
Engage community.

The Colorado College Art Department's Graphics Research Lab (GRL) began in 2013 as a co-curricular arm of its printmaking program. GRL investigates ways graphic design and printmaking can engage with issues of social justice and connect CC students with local non-profits. By working closely with community partners, students learn how to listen, analyze, actively engage, and contribute. GRL projects build the skills necessary for collaboration, and thus prepares CC students for cooperative work well beyond the field of activist printmaking. Through GRL, students have opportunities to employ their creative skills outside the classroom, and to see how artists can productively contribute to the collective good. The Graphics Research Lab challenges a prevailing concept of the artist as an isolated individual pursuing personal goals, and instead encourages students to think of themselves as "citizen artists".

Citizen Artist - For centuries artists across the globe have been fully integrated into their cultures, creating work that reflects and shapes shared values and integrates into the physical, political, and spiritual lives of their communities. For a variety of reasons, many artists today are celebrated as isolated individuals, whose work is primarily self-expression seen by a self-selected elite. The Graphics Research Lab seeks to connect student artists with community by providing opportunities for them to collaborate with local non-profit agencies. In past projects, the team has engaged with local partners on issues such as disability awareness, food-insecurity, and climate change awareness. Students both learn and contribute in ways not possible in the classroom. Graphic arts media and techniques are a natural fit, as most non-profit partners have small budgets but a strong demand for effective posters, illustrated texts, brochures, t-shirts, logos, signs, exhibits, and other two-dimensional designs.

Exponential Thinking in the Humanities: How will CC engage with the interrelated civic issues of our time? GRL believes that long-term solutions to our current and future challenges will come from exponential thinking in the Humanities. Moving away from an alignment of the arts with individual wellness and self-care and towards a mandate of civic engagement prepares students for the challenges of our future. Imagining the unimaginable is familiar territory across the arts and is a central theme in creative writing, theatre, music, the visual arts, and dance. From poetry, dance and music, to film, theatre, and painting, artists' visions have never been limited by the here and now. We see printmaking within this broader context and believe that the arts are a training ground for non-linear, imaginative leaping - a skill necessary to meet the challenges ahead and shape every aspect of our futures.

GRL 2020/21 Projects

Pressing Issues: The focus of this year's GRL work in printmaking is to design and implement a mobile printing program to engage with the pressing issues of our time; COVID, Systemic Racism, and Threats to Democracy. First semester, the planning team will focus on the design and funding for a mobile printing van centered on relief printing for posters and t-shirts. In addition to program planning and branding for the project, fall work will concentrate on designing the press and sled for a retrofit van, creating an all-call for opensource designs, and laser cutting donated designs to be printed during on-site spring events. If you are interested in applying to work on this project and enroll in AS 401: Graphics Research Lab, please send an application to

Drawn Together: How does the simple act of occupying public space and drawing the world around us disrupt, connect, and bear witness to our time? How do we make manifest the new mandates of social distancing while occupying physical space and drawing together? What does it mean to be a draftsperson in a digital age? When does drawing become an act of insurrection? Drawn Together is a collective. We work together in socially distanced groups with remote contributors. We make sketchbooks. We trade them, and while we draw in them individually throughout the year, on May 19th all sketchbooks are returned to campus where they will remain as a collection. One year. One sketchbook. One pencil. One pen. One eraser. Meet weekly. Record your year. Interested in enlisting? Clock starts block two. Contact for more information

Report an issue - Last updated: 12/17/2020