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Campus Alert

Course: Elements of Printmaking, ART-210
Professor:
Jessi Hardesty
Assignment Title:
(Don’t) Come to My Garden

Maryn McFadden Print-2 Carroll Community College
Maryn McFadden Print-1 Carroll Community College

Assignment Details

For our final assignment in Printmaking, we were tasked with creating a woodblock reduction print of about 11” x 18” using three or more colors. The prompt for this design was “dream,” which allowed for a wide range of possibilities. To come up with an idea, I spent a couple weeks listening to a playlist I created of what to me is dream-like music, and spent time sketching/painting/writing down any ideas that came to me. Ultimately, my final work is a culmination of ideas from those weeks and themes I had been playing with all semester in Printmaking, Painting II, and my personal practice. In short, my themes consisted of sleeping, dreaming, and dying. As someone who often feels bombarded with sound, daily life, and the constant sensory input of the world around them, I find myself escaping to the little world in my head frequently. While in reality my inner world may not actually look like a garden, or like anything at all, I wanted to communicate what it is like to have a peaceful inner world. I think overgrown gardens and the quiet of nighttime are some of the things I find most peaceful. My print depicts a nude figure with hair that flows long past their feet, resting upon a hill of moss beneath the full moon. The nudity, absurdly long hair, and carefree nature of the figure are representative of a world with no responsibilities or worries. The same goes for the environment surrounding them, which is growing without human interaction. In total, I layered five colors – yellow, orange, light blue, purple, and navy – that aim to create a vibrant yet serene atmosphere. One of the most influential albums in helping me visualize this personal garden was Minnie Riperton’s Come to My Garden. After her album, I decided to name my piece (Don’t) Come to My Garden, a nod to the beautiful world she created through the music (minus the invite to visit it).

Application

In the future, I intend the knowledge I gained from this assignment to help and expand my printing practice and allow me to make more intricate pieces. Since this was my first time doing this process, I learned countless things I could do more effectively and what I do and don’t like about this process. For example, I learned about how to work with wood when printing, and how it behaves while being carved. I now know the ways wood is different from other carving surfaces and that I may prefer working on those different surfaces. But I was also inspired to someday experiment with different types of wood and see how various types may change the way the print comes out. I also got to see for myself how layering ink works, a step in the direction of being able to use way more than five colors in a single print. The extensive list of new knowledge is something I will be able to continuously build upon, allowing me to refine my work, try new methods, and slowly become a more skillful printmaker. 

Results/Conclusions

For me, this assignment was a breakthrough in my artistic process as a whole. I’ve spent a long time trying to focus on things that are real and communicable thoughts, when there is a rich world within myself to explore as well. While this piece does not necessarily have an abstract look or feel, the path I took to being able to represent a vast abstract world is what has been most valuable to learn. I think many young artists have a hard time trusting themselves and their ideas, myself included. Often I find that this issue is exacerbated when I am making work for a class, because I focus more on what I think is expected of me and potential judgment rather than what I think or expect of myself. This assignment was a large step towards being vulnerable in my art within the context of a classroom/shared space. I learned much more than how to carve a woodblock or how to line up paper correctly. I learned how to use my art as a tool that can represent thoughts too big for words; I learned how to trust my voice, my craft, and my knowledge. There is still a long way for me to go, but this assignment gave me more confidence in my abilities as an artist, and helped teach me ways to build and pursue more complicated ideas.

Challenges and Successes

One of the biggest challenges to overcome with this assignment had to do with the amount of time I had to work on it. Since this kind of printing uses the same sheet of paper with the same block each time, drying time can become an issue. Printing ink can take over 24 hours to dry, so printing could only be done every other day. Even more time consuming than rolling the block and paper through the printing press was mixing and finding the correct color to use, carving the block, and managing my time and materials alongside three others in a shared space with only one press. I am proud of myself for not only keeping a strict schedule and staying late/coming in on weekends to do work, but for also being able to get all five colors printed. I knew it would be easier to stick to the three-color minimum, and I doubted my ability to get this assignment done, but I also knew I wouldn’t feel satisfied if I didn’t bring my full vision to life. I worked hard outside of the classroom to manage my schedule and balance this final with my other three classes, and I worked hard inside the classroom to pull clean prints quickly and efficiently. In the end, I made 26 total prints and had an edition of 8. Pushing myself to do extra work and make the highest quality prints I am able made this experience very rewarding for me, and I’m proud of myself for pushing past any initial doubts.