Alternative Printmaking Event Allowed Students To Explore Large Format Printing, Collaboration

December 22, 2015
Phyllis McGibbon and Natalia Leginowitz, both of the art department, hold a print made with Jim Wice, director of disability services. Wice drove his power wheelchair on the print surface.

The Pendleton West project, among other things, is redefining the campus spaces for work in the studio arts. While the project is underway, some classes have found creative ways to practice their craft in their temporary spaces and other places on campus. To explore larger printing formats, students in the fall semester's ARTS 322 Advanced Print Concepts held an alternative printmaking event on the Davis-Jewett plaza in late October.

The idea for the event was conceived by the course instructor, Phyllis McGibbon, professor of art. "To speak of printmaking simply in terms of its tools or methods would be to miss one of its most important cultural legacies—the spirit of communal effort, creative collaboration and studio dialogue," wrote McGibbon in her faculty profile. "Learning to make prints in a shared print studio encourages one to think through multiple options, often in conversation with others."

The class and event gave students the opportunity to collaborate with printmaking students from Boston University and School of The Museum of Fine Arts. Wellesley students visited the BU printshop on two occasions and carved woodblocks. Natalia Leginowicz, printmaking technician, said the students choose a loose theme for the event (MASK) and decided on a few woodblock sizes that could fit together in a block when printed.

The event also brought several Wellesley departments together. Among the tools used in the printmaking process were a large steam roller (also known as a road roller) and the power wheelchair belonging to Jim Wice, director of disability services.

Leginowicz said John Olmsted, manager of landscape and motor pool operations for the department of facilities management and planning, "generously and enthusiastically helped during the event and provided us with a road roller and a driver." Participants applied ink to the woodblocks and plates, prepared paper and fabric, and arranged the materials for printing. "Once the print matrices were inked [and] arranged and the fabric and cushioning felt blankets were laid over them, the driver of the road roller was given a thumbs up to roll," Leginowicz said.

For another print, Wice said he connected with McGibbon and, though he said he’s not sure who first suggested it, they decided to incorporate his chair. “We inked out a plate, put paper down, and I rode over it, did a few designs, a few twists, it came out really cool,” Wice said. Wice, who is a member of the Boston Brakers Power Soccer Club, hopes to use one or two of the prints in a future fundraiser to support the club.

"Printmaking, by nature, welcomes collaboration and a cross-pollination of concepts and styles," said Leginowicz. "By hosting this collaborative and public printmaking event, we aspired to give Wellesley students a dynamic opportunity work with their respective peers in expressing both individual and collective creativity, and to engage the local community in the process. Having received many enthusiastic responses to the event, we hope to encourage and host such collaborations in the future."

The Pendleton West project will add roughly 10,000 square-feet of space for visual, musical, and studio arts. The building is expected to open for classes in 2017. For more information and updates about this and other campus renewal projects, follow The Dirt and see the Campus Renewal website.