When I was in graduate school at Rhode Island School of Design, I had the unfortunate experience of being shut out of working in the ceramic studio because I was a Master of Art Education major and not an Master of Fine Arts major. Art schools that have both programs are not unusual, but finding one where both areas of study are regarded with the same respect is quite another thing. Searching for an department that would allow me to work for my studio credits in their precious space was no easy task. I got lucky and met a wonderful man named Art Wood. Art was also a pretty famous puppeteer. He was the chair of the Printmaking/Textile Department at the time (hmm, 1973) and he was kind enough to suggest I enroll in a section of the silkscreen class. I did, having no experience with this process, and fondly remember the hours spent in that studio breathing the nasty fumes of lacquer thinner and oil based inks. The graduate student who taught the class was Richard Stoecker, a MFA Printmaking teaching assistant to Art Wood. Richard was handsome, tall with long blonde hair, married with a child, and a graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology with a BFA in Photography. I think he was also a US Navy veteran. Richard was also an accomplished woodworker who had a booth at the Philadelphia Craft Show. Anyway, they even allowed me to bring my large poodle-sheepdog, Too Sweet, into the studio when I worked there alone at night. I met a lot of talented people there and have great memories of being totally immersed in the process of making art. Sadly, both Art and Richard are deceased.
The silkscreen process is labor intensive. First you have to create the stencil, then it must be adhered to a screen. Making registration tabs, securing drying racks, cutting paper, mixing inks, printing and cleaning everything just to repeat it again for another color. Looking back at the experience, I find it amusing that I actually did this and later taught it to high school students in forty-five minute classes. I much prefer a more immediate process like drawing. No fuss, no muss: just make the marks and you’re done. As a result of this year of study I have numerous copies of prints from the many editions I created. In the past I have recycled pieces of them in collages and mixed media pieces. It seemed like a good idea to revisit this process.
I have a problem with symmetry. I like things to be equally balanced, but since I am lacking in the skills of perfection when it comes to measurement and cutting, I usually prefer to create an asymmetrical composition. Yesterday’s effort started out formal, but became boring. I tried to layer some more informal elements to save it. When I looked at a mixed media piece that I did years ago, I realized that I was still using some of the same techniques. I guess I am recycling both materials and ideas. I definitely used better glue in the past- spray adhesive, to be more accurate. Wondering when my lungs will turn on me and remind me of all the abuse, I am glad I decided smoking wasn’t for me.