Flint, MI—On Screen, an initiative of the Buckham Fine Arts Project, is pairing up Flint’s artists and nonprofits to create screen prints for a cause. 

Matthew Osmon is one of On Screen’s organizers, and said he expects the project will feature at least six collaborations between artists and nonprofits before wrapping up in the fall. The third of those six prints, created in collaboration with Whaley Children’s Center, was recently completed and will be going on sale soon at Buckham Gallery, organizers said.

The concept for On Screen came from a similar initiative called On Press, which Osmon encountered at a workshop he was taking at Signal-Return, a letterpress print shop in Detroit. 

Adapting the On Press model of creating and selling artwork to support local nonprofits, Osmon supports local artists as they develop a design with a chosen nonprofit’s leadership, screen print a limited-run of that finalized artwork at Factory Two, and deliver between 30-50 prints to Buckham Gallery for public purchase.

A majority of the proceeds from those purchases are then funneled back to the nonprofit featured in each print, with a small amount kept for artist stipends and materials.

Matthew Osmon, searches through a pile of stencils for the next one to be used in the screen printing process at Factory Two in Flint on July 13, 2021. (Santiago Ochoa | Flint Beat)

The project has so far included work by Osman and fellow artists Zach Lang, who teamed up with the Latinx Technology & Community Center and R.E.A.C.H./The Genesee County Youth Corporation, respectively. 

The prints are priced at $40 each, but the fundraising aspect wasn’t the biggest reason some nonprofits teamed up. 

“Advocacy and awareness around what we do is huge,” said Casey Schlinker, the director of programming for Whaley Children’s Center. “To be chosen as a partner, I feel like we all felt extremely fortunate,” she said. 

The Whaley Children’s Center design was done in collaboration with studio artist and Flint native Emily Legleitner. Legleitner volunteered at Whaley when she was in high school, so she was thrilled with the partnership.

“I felt familiar with them,” Legleitner said.

After sitting down with Schlinker and listening to the Whaley staff’s stories of love and empowerment for the foster children in their care, Legleitner knew she would incorporate flowers in her design.

“I wanted to focus on growth, something really positive,” Legleitner said of her sunflower-filled print.

She does not normally screen print, but she took on an ambitious five color design with a peach background for the cheery yellow blooms otherwise filling the paper. 

A stencil of how Flint artist Emily Legleitner’s print will eventually look lies propped up against a desk inside Factory Two’s screen print studio on July 13, 2021. (Santiago Ochoa | Flint Beat)

Legleitner also incorporated the archway and brick of the Whaley Children Center’s entry. 

“It’s just such a cool building,” she said, scraping green paint over one of her prints, “I really wanted to bring that into it.”

Legleitner said the appeal of participating in this project was not only getting to support one of her favorite nonprofits, but also the challenge of creating a design that is both representative and beautiful. 

“It needs to be something that people want to hang in their home,” she said as she transferred one nearly-completed print to the drying rack. “You know, so it’s not exclusively an advertisement poster for the org, but an art piece.”

Legleitner’s design joins Osman’s and Lang’s in the Buckham Gallery lobby as soon as this week. On Screen’s next collaboration will feature the Flint River Watershed Coalition, designed by local artist Janice McCoy.

Kate is Flint Beat's associate editor. She joined the team as a corps member of Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues....