Wednesday, November 12, 2014

An old dream of a printmaking tour  

There is an idea I put on my bucket list back in the ‘80s. I was still at the University of Washington and in the School Of Art I had the freedom to work with students who wanted to start up projects like the idea I had. They were students from the Industrial Arts program, and they came to me with a request for a special studies group on sketching up ideas.
They claimed there was no opportunity to explore different media in their sketching projects, and mediums like printmaking, for example, monotypes, had them curious. I said to them, “I happen to need someone to sketch up a concept called the Print Circus—a cross-country tour bus for printmaking students,” and I made a deal. I would sign their special permission slips if they would sketch up the tour bus.
By the end of the quarter, they presented me with their sketches, and they were pretty good. I still have them in my storage room. I was reminded of this when I thought about going to Knoxville, Tennessee next March to attend the Southern Graphics Council International Printmaking Conference.
“Why not restore that idea?” I thought. Today you can hire a tour bus, get a couple dozen people to sign up—perhaps run it with a Kickstarter or IndieGoGo campaign—and make this trip. Right away I went online and saw what the tour industry offers.
When I thought more about it, it became another one of those items I put on my bucket list—the list of things a person wants to do before they kick the bucket. The original idea I had, back in the 1980s, was that the tour was for students to get a bigger picture of what printmaking offers. We would have had an itinerary to visit printmaking workshops across the USA; not only that, we would also see what forms of new technologies were developing, such as video and computer graphics.

I was, and still am, convinced that printmaking has a close association with new electronic technologies which, if incorporated into the printmaking students’ curricula, would enable them to do much more with their education. As it was (and still is) the college was in a sense locking the students in to their professors’ world of printmaking, not with the printmaking world that was coming into being.