This is the first in an occasional series of short “as told to” profiles by Plymouth resident Carl Mastandrea, who describes himself as a “photographer, teacher, and storyteller.” First up is Katharine LiBretto the artist-owner of Inky Hands Studio, which she opened at 84 Court St. in 2018. She is also one of the co-originators of First Fridays in Plymouth. Mastandrea interviewed LiBretto and fashioned the interview into this piece.
I started Inky Hands as my own private studio in Dallas in 2015 so I could work on my own portfolio, but I also started teaching out of that studio. It had open access hours and at one point, it was seven days a week straight. During that time, I started producing a lot of seascapes and I realized I was getting this pull back to the East Coast. And so I started shopping around for about two years thinking about where was I going to land. At the same time my parents found Plymouth. They have helped me build this place from the start and I owe my career to them… really to just by encouraging me from age two and a half years old onwards to create art.
I was dreaming of a brick-and-mortar storefront in a walkable historic downtown with a studio space attached to the back so I could continue to make work and have a shop. And six years later here I am. I mean that’s the whole story right there.
[Covid] put a kind of a stop to all of that. At one point, when I first opened, I was busy with maybe three or four classes a week. I’m hoping I’ll get that back up to that and run new classes, including book arts.
In the last six years, for my own artistic practice, I’ve incorporated more and more experimental approaches to printmaking, mono printing, different ways of stencil making and book arts – pulling prints and other physical objects together and creating a three-dimensional work of art.
During Covid, Gail Parker – of Plymouth Center for the Arts – and I decided to co-found First Fridays in 2020 as way to see life return to the streets of Plymouth and see business return. The whole goal was to bring life back to Plymouth but centered around the arts.
The arts are prescribed for healing for people, but the same should go for the community. About 24 businesses got involved, including museums and galleries from all over town. We have exhibitions and workshops and refreshments and musicians and stay open with later hours, hoping to bring the late-night traffic. And it’s still going on!
This story has been edited for length and clarity.
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