NORTH ADAMS, MASS. — An art project of Melanie Mowinski, associate professor of visual art at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA), that started as a whim in response to President Donald Trump’s first year in office, has been acquired by libraries, universities and museums across the country, including Baylor University in Waco, Texas; Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.; Yale University in New Haven, Conn.; and The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

“The 50 Card Project” started with a single card that Mowinski created after the 2017 Presidential Inauguration. A second card followed the next week, and she soon found herself involved in a project in response to different situations that emerged from an emotionally charged political climate.

“It became this historical piece,” Mowinski said. “It documents what happened each week and how I responded.”

Throughout 2017, Mowinski printed a new letterpress card in a limited edition of 100 using vintage letterpress type, cuts, and other printing matrixes. After each new card was completed, copies were sent out to interested recipients. At the same time, 15 to 20 cards were sent to key political players in Washington, D. C.

In January, Mowinski’s work was viewed in its entirety at MCLA Gallery 51’s first exhibition of 2018: “The 50 Card Project.” After the exhibit closed in March, she was left with some extra sets of cards in custom enclosures, as well as artist books, and decided to explore the possibility of selling them to special collections libraries, such as those held by universities and museums. She started by contacting her alma maters.

“Within three hours, Yale University and the Cleveland Institute of Art in Ohio responded, and purchased the set of cards and the book, which is amazing,” Mowinski said.

A book arts dealer went on to place her artist book in The Library of Congress and Cornell University, as well as at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga. Additional sets of her work were purchased by the University of Iowa in Iowa City, The University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA), and at the Letterform Archive – a museum and special collections library in San Francisco, Calif.

In addition to the 10 private collectors who purchased them, Mowinski anticipates that 15 libraries and museums will own the collection. Others soon may be able to view this work as well, as she is looking into exhibition opportunities, including at a print gallery in Chicago, Ill.

“The 50 Card Project” was created 1,800-pound, Vandercook proof press that once was the centerpiece of the former “PRESS: Letterpress as a Public Art Project” gallery on Main Street, which now is located in MCLA’s Bowman Hall.

“These cards really built on what I did when I had ‘PRESS,’” Mowinski said. “Every month we would make these mantra cards that were inspirational and something that you might want to hang on your refrigerator to remind you about how you want to live in the world. I decided to use that idea as the foundation for these cards.”

The quotes Mowinski selected for each of the 50 cards came from a variety of people whose comments were bipartisan in nature. “But whoever I chose would somehow respond to whatever was happening in our country that particular week,” she said.

Mowinski’s “50 Card Project” is on display at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts in downtown Pittsfield as part of the juried group show, “Showing Up.” For more information, go to

An article about this show also recently was featured in the Berkshire Eagle. To read this article, go to,552386.
For more information about the “50 Card Project,” go to

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is the Commonwealth's public liberal arts college and a campus of the Massachusetts state university system. MCLA promotes excellence in learning and teaching, innovative scholarship, intellectual creativity, public service, applied knowledge, and active and responsible citizenship. MCLA graduates are prepared to be practical problem solvers and engaged, resilient global citizens.

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