Lyz Luidens can be found leading the screenprinting and visual design students at the Brightmoor Makerspace through the many stepped process of creating and refining original designs for screenprinting. Lyz leads students through hand-drawing, collaging, and digitally editing their creations before putting ink on fabric to screenprint them onto shirts. “I love printmaking. It’s the perfect balance between an almost tedious, technical process and a playful, creative process,” they say, while the students work on collaging new design ideas at a table behind them.
Lyz is a printmaker and educator who has been living and teaching in Detroit since graduating from the University of Michigan with a BFA in 2013. They have taught in and out of classrooms throughout the city and metro area as a teaching artist, and founded and ran an artist collective in the city for just shy of 5 years. “I think printmaking and teaching go hand in hand; the whole idea behind making prints is to create multiples of a piece of art, of a design, which I love. It sort of defies the idea that art should be costly to access, kind of democratizes the process. And I like the idea of democratizing education, too, inviting the students to be part of the process guiding our decisions as we learn as a group.”
Lyz is also a founding member of the Brick and Mortar Collective, a housing cooperative in Detroit’s North End. The cooperative houses educators, activists, artists, writers, and students, with the goal of creating a community space out of their shared living space. “Sharing resources, making things like space and tools and skills really accessible to everyone, that’s part of our mission, and something I’m really passionate about.” This idea bleeds into Lyz’s interest in teaching in spaces like the Brightmoor Makers program, where there is more freedom to provide students with the resources and collaborative teamwork they need to explore their ideas.
Lyz was first introduced to the Brightmoor Makers program in the winter of 2015, when they were asked to collaborate with the screenprinting students at the time on creating an instructional book on the screenprinting process. Lyz photographed and interviewed the students as they worked, and found the program inspiring. At the time, the kids were working in the school’s classrooms on the weekends, because the makerspace building wasn’t renovated yet. “When I got the email that there was an opening to teach screenprinting in this program a year later, I jumped on it,” Lyz says. “I had been teaching in schools, and I still do now, but it’s really refreshing to be able to step out of the rigidity of the classroom setting and work in an educational space where we get to create and explore these processes together. I love it.”
In addition to the creativity that the students are able to practice in the Brightmoor Makerspace, there is a lot of practical knowledge being taught. Before the program took on the idea of being a Makerspace, it was known as Entrepreneurs in Action. Lyz owns and runs their own letterpress and fine are printmaking business, the Prankster Press, and they say that, “sharing some of the ways that I run my own business, and create my own income, is really cool. It’s my hope that being able to tell the kids that this is possible and I’m doing it right now in my life, that it seems more possible to them.” One of the main goals of the program is to provide the students with skills that can be turned into income through entrepreneurship. Even now, the woodshop, bike mechanics, and screenprinters receive commissions and complete projects for organizations in the community – this is part of how the program is funded. “It’s great to see how it clicks with them, when they realize that part of their paycheck is literally a result of the work they’ve made and sold.”
Lyz is excited to continue teaching and exploring at the makerspace as it gains it’s footing in the newly renovated space behind Detroit Community School. “It’s really great to have our own dedicated space! I can’t wait to see all the things that are going to happen in here,” Lyz says, looking into the large one room makerspace full of woodshop equipment, screenprinting equipment, bikes in various states of assembly, and students hustling around between all of the tables and projects.