ASU Capital Scholar forms lasting relationships in Washington, DC

September 7, 2017

This June, Arizona State University political science major Suzette Warren traded in the 100-degree desert heat for the fast-paced 65 of Washington, D.C., as part of the Capital Scholars Program internship program.

Students in the program intern over the summer while earning six upper-division credits. The field and location of the internship can vary greatly, from government agencies to nonprofit organizations. Warren was interning at the Madison Group, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm. The U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Suzette Warren, political science major and Capital Scholar, spent the summer working as an intern for the Madison Group, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm. Download Full Image

Like many interns in the nation’s capital, Warren was thrown right into the mix, having to adapt quickly. She described the experience as organized chaos in the blog that students are asked to contribute to during their internship.

“While America runs on Dunkin’, Washington, D.C., runs on interns,” Warren said.

A typical day at the firm for Warren was going to meetings and taking notes on issues pertaining to clients. The group also went on tours of the area and learned fun facts such as the highest court in the land is actually the basketball court on the floor above the Supreme Court.

Mainly the students experienced life working and living in Washington, from the frustrations of the Metro breaking down during the day to tagging along with your boss as he lobbies at Charlie Palmer’s Steak restaurant at night.

Although she was 2,000 miles away from home, Warren said she saw Sun Devils everywhere she went. Her employer is a Sun Devil, people she met at events were Sun Devils and even random people on the Metro yelling, “Go ASU!” as they raised up their pitchforks were Sun Devils.

Another ASU alumnus, Matt Caruso, who completed the Capital Scholar program 20 years ago, even had the group over for dinner. Warren found relationships like this were special. There were people all over who were eager to offer assistance and advice during her stay in Washington.

ASU student Suzette WarrenSuzette Warren

“Without that support it would have been a lot harder for us," Warren said. "Everybody needs a home-cooked meal once in a while.”

One of the more memorable pieces of advice Warren received was from a lobbyist. He explained that networking, specifically fostering relationships, was key. 

“It goes far beyond handing someone your business card and sending a few emails back and forth,” Warren said. “You need to care about the person, genuinely.”

Now back in Tempe, Warren said experiences she had in Washington are being taught in the classroom. Reading about environmental issues is one thing, but seeing it firsthand in Congress is the best experience you can have, according to Warren.

Warren feels so strongly about her experience in the Capital Scholars Program that she is making classroom visits to spread the word. She tells fellow Sun Devils that this program is great even if you aren’t a political science major. 

An example she gives is when she met a policy adviser at Google. Warren said she had never imagined working at a tech company, but through programs like this and through the power of networking she realized that there were opportunities everywhere she looked.

Based on advice she received in Washington, Warren vows to keep working, even if she feels like she is already at the top.

“I will continuously strive to be better than my best.”

Matt Oxford

Manager of marketing and communications, School of Politics and Global Studies


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ASU press worth its weight in maroon and gold

ASU's Pyracantha Press publishes fine books and special limited editions.
Among Pyracantha creations: Bill of Rights printed on pulp containing US flags.
September 7, 2017

Pyracantha Press uses collection of metal machines and moveable type to produce expressive, limited-edition works of art

There are thousands of printers, tablets and computers on the campuses of the nation's most innovative university.

But tucked away inside an underground classroom on Arizona State University's Tempe campus sits a relic that has its roots in Gutenberg.

It’s a breadth of heavy metal presses and moveable type, collectively weighing in at an estimated 30 tons. It occupies 2,000 square feet of space fanned out over two locations, and includes 3,000 cases of metal and wood type — enough to fill several semi-trucks.

“This collection gives students and academics an incredible resource for teaching and creative research,” said Daniel Mayer, director of Pyracantha Press in ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

“The work we do here is super labor-intensive, and every project is unique and a work of art.”

Most of the book projects are by invitation only, and each production can range from one to five years. Print runs can vary from 10 to 200 copies, depending on project complexity, handwork and duration.

“A lot of the projects we choose are culturally significant and interdisciplinary,” Mayer said. “We are very selective in our choice, often picking subjects that might otherwise not see the light of day.” 

printed pages of paper made with clothing fibers

These pieces were created from paper 
made from clothing that refugees were
wearing when they fled their homelands.

Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Pyracantha has produced approximately 30 original books for national and international poets, artists, musicians, ceramists, historians and historical figures. They’ve also re-created works by William Shakespeare, James Dickey, Rita Dove and ASU’s own Alberto Rios, Arizona's poet laureate. 

Kurt Weiser, ASU art professor and ceramist, is Pyracantha’s newest author. He’s excited about a special limited-edition book of his work, which Mayer said will be published later this year.

“It’s different than ceramics. I don’t have to fire it. It doesn’t shrink. It doesn’t crack, and it doesn’t peel off,” Weiser said. “What you see is what you get. There’s certainly a craft to the printing process, and right now I’m just watching and listening.”

The two have been collaborating on the project since February, which includes dialogue, proofing sessions, prototyping, cutting, folding and constant trouble shooting, according to Mayer.

“It has to be precise,” Mayer said. “Everything is hand-produced and hand-built. That’s what makes our books special.”

Originally established as a letterpress shop in 1981 inside of the Art Building, Pyracantha Press publishes fine books and special limited editions for individuals, collectors and special collections, including the Getty Center, Yale University, Klingspor Museum in Germany, the Library of Congress and others. The press is self-supporting and receives sustaining gifts from the Hatchfund and the Philip C. Curtis Charitable Trust.

In 2016, ASU was gifted the Adam Repan Petko Type Collection, making ASU’s type collection the largest at any institution of higher education in North America. Twenty years prior, he donated 10 tons of type to the book arts program and Pyracantha Press.

Despite its massive size and weight, the press is capable of producing expressive works of art, said Professor Emeritus John Risseeuw, who came to ASU in 1980 to establish a book arts program within the printmaking area of the School of Art in what was then known as the Herberger College of the Arts.  

“In the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, this equipment was being offloaded by the industry as equipment was upgraded, so people like us, collectors, took it in so it wouldn’t be put in the trash and started making art with it,” Risseeuw said.

Risseeuw added that this type of press is expanding commercially and gaining popularity with universities nationwide. He says the fascination remains because of the sentimentality factor and continues to be "a medium of expression."

Video by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Some of the titles in the Pyracantha catalog have been spectacular. They include:

  • Venus and Adonis” — a 1984 edited version of William Shakespeare’s narrative poem. Includes an introduction by John Doebler, with two lithographs by Leonard Lehrer. Bound in leather and maroon linen.
  • The Bill of Rights — a five-color broadside of the text of the Bill of Rights to commemorate the bicentennial of the document on Dec. 15, 1991. It was printed on 100 percent rag handmade paper from pulp containing cotton American flags.
  • PETRIfied forEAST” — a 1994 collaboration with three poets and artists from Budapest and Hungary on the theme of freedom and oppression.
  • Eco Songs” — a song cycle based on poetic works by Chief Dan George, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Stevie Smith, Alfonsina Storni, Li Po and the Book of Job. Published in 2000, it includes an artist’s book constructed of plant fibers from around the world, a CD of music and a colophon about the making of the book.

Pyracantha will remain in good hands, said Mayer, now in his 30th year at ASU. Part of his charge is to continue the tradition by training the next generation of printers — people like design major Hailey Tang, who has a passion for books.

The 21-year-old Herberger Institute junior is not only being mentored by Mayer but is the president of A Buncha Book Artists, an ASU student-run organization of interdisciplinary artists and writers working in the contemporary artist book movement.

Tang said their generation has transitioned into a digital lifestyle where many believe books have become obsolete. Tang said, however, that book and printmaking can never be fully replaced by the digital medium.

“I find that as a designer and artist that books are a huge part of how I tell other peoples’ stories and communicating ideas,” Tang said. “I hope that I can keep the book arts alive in the future and make others realize how it is needed.”

Top photo: The basement press room of the ASU Art Building houses Pyracantha Press and contains more than 30 tons of metal- and wood-type for use on its several presses. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now