Our goal is to expose the students to methods of printmaking and its ability to make a statement. Prints have been an important medium in social and political events in various countries and cultures. Some countries we hope to look at include Germany, Japan, South Africa, and the US. Each week we will experiment with a new method of printmaking using mainly paper and paint. These methods include techniques derived from woodblock printing, found object printmaking, stamp and stencil making, and even fingerprinting. We will teach students about the power of making multiple prints and each week’s work will be put aside for a final collage workshop. By learning about these cultures and their respective printmaking methods, we hope students will be inspired to use printmaking as a way to express themselves and make their mark.
Activity 1: Gyotaku - Japanese Fish Prints
Gyotaku prints are traditional Japanese prints done in the 19th century by fisherman who wished to record the size and visual details of their daily catches. Learning about this kind of printmaking will introduce the students to using natural objects to create documentary prints of an object. We would first look at some examples of Gyotaku prints and then ask the students to find natural objects with which they would like to create images. This could be a later workshop so they had time to find things to use. We would encourage them to bring in leaves, twigs, sticks, flowers, or any other objects they could find in nature. We would then provide different colored paints in which to dip these objects and press onto paper, making a print. We hope the students can explore the different ways to use the objects in the print making process to see how the representation of the objects changes.
Activity 2: South African Stamps and Stencils
This workshop will introduce students to how prints were used by many different cultural groups during the Apartheid in South Africa. We will look specifically at works from the MoMA exhibition, Impressions from South Africa, which illustrate different techniques of incorporating image and text to make a social statement. We will decode these images by looking at the relationship between the words used and the styles of the images. Then students will be given material the make rubber stamps and stencils. We will ask the students to think about something that they themselves could make a statement about. By making them think about something they want to say in the making of their print, we hope to have them better understand the power of prints in changing social conditions. We will emphasize the usage and power of text in this class.
Activity 3: Collage
The final activity of the workshop will consist of a collage project. Each week students will create several prints in the various styles and methods we will introduce and teach them. We will ask them to set aside one or two prints each week for this final collage project. Our hope is that this project will connect the various methods the students have learned about to illustrate the overall power of printmaking, no matter the culture of origin. We will ask students to think about the composition of their final collage and how each kind of print they made previously fits into it. We will have additional print supplies in case student would like to create new prints to add, but this will be mostly an individual project and exploration of the printmaking medium. By cutting, pasting, and rearranging their old prints to create a new work, students will see how the technique of re-appropriation can change images and create new messages.
Additional Workshop Themes: German Woodblock Printing and Islamic Tile Designs