About us

History and Mission

The Prairie Center of the Arts, a member of the Alliance of Artists Communities, is a 501c(3) Artist-in-Residence program providing artists from around the world the resources and uninterrupted time to think and create.

Prairie Center of the Arts was founded in 2003 as a juried Artist in Residency (AIR) program to attract emerging and established artists from Illinois and around the world;  to provide these artists and local artists with opportunities for research and development of new work;  to provide an accessible facility for art and creativity that embraces the Peoria area community offering equipment and new technologies not currently available to the general public.

New Initiatives in
Book Arts and Printmaking

We have installed a Community Book Arts and Printmaking facility to serve the Peoria Area Community. We will be able to offer classes, workshops, and technical support on the use of equipment not available outside of an educational institution.

These new programs will further enhance our residency program by our ability to attract emerging and established artists from our community and from around the world.
The resident artists working at Prairie Center will engage our community in artistic pursuits while being provided opportunities for their own research and development of new works.
Robert Rowe applying ink to the Vandercook Letterpress

Our studio programs will:

make Book Arts and Printmaking programs available to the Peoria area community.

attract emerging and established artist from out community and from around the world.

provide artist with space and resources to develop new work.

create a space for beginners to explore and learn by taking classes.

foster and promote collaborations between writers and visual artists.

offer the tools and equipment necessary to print books, posters, cards, and much more.

The possibilities are limitless.

Resident Artist working in the Print Shop

Some things we offer:
  • Studio Access
  • Workshops and Classes in:
    • Letterpress
    • Book Binding
    • Polymer Plate Making
    • Box Making
    • Relief Printing
    • Collagraph
    • Monoprint
    • Drypoint
    • Engraving
    • Screen Printing
  • Individual Lessons
  • Open Studio Nights
  • Residencies for artists
  • Sale of course materials & supplies
  • Free DEMOS

Dawn Gettler printing a woodblock on the Dameco

The Space
Cordage building where Prairie Center of the Arts is housed

The historic Peoria Cordage Company building is a grand old brick building - 125 years old and 140,000 square feet, near the Illinois River. The building served as a rope factory until the 1970s. Tri-City Machine Products, a full service machine shop, has been housed in the facility since 1974, and through its collaboration with Tri-City, Prairie Center houses the resident studios, gallery, and print shop.  See Photos.


Print Shop and Studio Space
6,000 square foot Print Shop and Studios

3 individual studios. Studios range in size and are open spaces.

Artists Studios and Print Shop are on street level and accessible during hours of operation.

The studio area has a full kitchen with lounge area and bathrooms.

Local artists may be juried for use of studio spaces.  See our application page for more details.


Residents have access to equipment, technologies and tools to facilitate the creative process. An artist using the presses, large format printers and the Imacon scanner must provide proof of experience in using the machines. Many artists prefer to bring their own laptop with the software they require.

The Digital Lab is housed in a separate room see details below. This space is available for use M-F 7:00am to 3:00pm except holidays.  Other times can be arranged by appointment.

There is Dark Rooms with sinks, tables, and a ventilation system, enlarger and timer and poly plate exposure unit and screen printing exposure unit. Chemicals and supplies are furnished and removed by the artist.
  • Digital Lab:
    • HP computer with Adobe CS6 Design and Web Premium software
    • Imacon 949 film scanner
    • Epson Stylus Pro 4800 & 9800 large format printers. The 9800 handles 44" paper. Artists supply their own paper and there is a charge for use of the large format printers.
    • Brother Printer/Copier/Scanner (no charge for a minimal # of copies)
    • Apple Computer with Snow Leopard operating system for internet use
    • HP ScanJet 6200C
  • Print Shop:
    • Dameco Etching press (36 x 60) has a steel bed
    • Vandercook letter press (15-21)
    • Vandercook letter press (15-20)
    • Assorted metal type in wood cabinets
    • Light table 36 x 36
    • Various paper cutters
    • Basic photol plate making equipment
    • Other small presses: Blick Master Etch Model II Trident G-600 (22 x 35). Blick Model 999 Etching press (17 x 35); Rollers have been adjusted and the original beds have been replaced to make them stronger; Blick Econo Etch Model II press with steel bed (9 ½ x 18)