15 October 2014

Print Shop. Go 2nd Grade Go!

Last year, my friend Joe came to my school for a two week artist residency. I wanted him to tell my second grade students all about printmaking and what inspired him to do the fabulous work that he does. But what ended up happening over the course of that two weeks was nothing short of incredible! He changed their lives.

Joe's jumping off point for his lesson was The Scream by the Expressionist artist Edvard Munch. I have to be honest: at first, I was a bit concerned. I'm not the hugest fan on the block of Mr. Munch's work or the Expressionist movement. Plus, it's like one of the most populated images in history, appearing on everything from album covers to t-shirts to coffee mugs. But I went with it. I wanted to see where Joe was going . . .

He introduced the work to the students with some questions and a brief slideshow. He also happened to be wearing a Scream t-shirt. It worked! The kids fell in love with The Scream and Joe. It was so much fun to watch! 

He had them draw their own version of The Scream on a large piece of paper. They were instructed to put as much detail into the work as possible. They could use any subject matter they wanted and place their work into an imaginative environment.

Then he had them isolate a section of their drawing. They drew a rectangle around this area, and this would be the part of the work that would become their finished print.

He gathered the students around a table and showed them how to redraw their sectioned-off drawing onto a small piece of foam with a pencil. The pencil acted as their carving tool, and the foam was their printing plate. (The above photo was taken by his assistant for the two weeks, Jerome. He's a pretty awesome fellow, too!!)

After they had carved out their foam plate, they inked it up and printed their finished work onto rice paper. It was such a simple process, but so amazingly rewarding for the students. Some of the kids were asking to do two or three pieces. I loved it!

Rice paper is THE BEST for printing with young people. THE BEST!!

I've done this project in various places with various assortments of tools. But this was the first time for all of these students to do this type of project. And it blew their minds!! 

Recently Joe finished up a second artist residency with students at my school. Our big middle schoolers. I'm anxious to see what came about from that residency. 

Joe is an amazing guy who's really, really passionate about spreading printmaking love around the world. If you'd like him to come to your school or give a presentation at your gallery, you can email him here

Carry on, good people!

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