Lennie Mowris" letterpress love

Artist's Year in Giving campaign partners with community organizations to get conversations going

In a world of injustice, a message to bring about awareness is always noble. This is the artistic task Lennie Mowris has taken on with her business, Lenspeace, a letterpress initiative in collaboration with local nonprofits and artists that seek to put out a powerful message. "The name is a double entendre," Mowris says. "The 'lens' being a source of vision, also the start to my name as the founder. And 'peace' coming from the bonds and ideas generated that bring people closer together in themselves."

The prints Mowris creates aren't any typical, soulless Hallmark fare. Instead, Mowris uses her love of raising awareness and the printing press to produce conscience letterpress printing, a technique often used during World Wars I and II to produce propaganda posters.

Lenspeace uses the vintage medium for tactile, textured messages in romantic calligraphy for a slew of salty break-up messages like, "Lose my number," or "You can keep the dog." Conversely, the text often portrays posi, radical messages like, "Critical for the masses: start a revolution." The latter is a phrase that precisely sums up Lenspeace's mission.

"Lenspeace is a perspective on that which binds us together and tears us apart, as explored through traditional vintage communications media," Mowris says. "It's an intention to leave this world a little lighter through love, humor, empathy, and philanthropy — a spectrum of creative ideas."

Its collective work aims to boost environmental awareness and cyclist rights, especially in alliance with the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition.

In the midst of its Year of Giving — a campaign supported by 15 local organizations including Southern Center for Human Rights, the Giving Kitchen, and others — Lenspeace plans to donate 50 percent or more of its profits to the drive.

In addition to working with nonprofits, creative projects are important to Mowris, who has also collaborated with artists including Miya Bailey, Scott Fuller, and Kevin Byrd.

On Lenspeace's site, Mowris reminiscences about working with the Southern Center for Human Rights to raise awareness for the inequality of the incarceration rate of African Americans. Mowris says this project was personal for Denise Brown, another designer who helped hand paint the posters and also had an incarcerated father. "Of every print I've ever made, I've never been as moved by a print as I am this one," Mowris says.

Although Mowris' interests range wildly, she says above all else, she wants to convey messages about the human experience. "Life is a pendulum constantly swinging between ecstasies and suffering," she says about a print called Target Practice. "What makes true love special is that it's committed to you ... both. We crave this experience because it alleviates the pain of our existence and celebrates the joys."

Lenspeace acts as a reminder that change can start with merely an idea, creativity, and a passion for working with others to help those whose voices can't be heard.

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