This winter, Central Print brought their mission of promoting the art of printmaking to Wilson for the Visiting Artist Program. Their medium inspired the art curriculum for the year. Prior to the visiting artist week, teachers Diane Signor and Mary Beth Tipton provided the students with a foundational overview of printmaking. Throughout the year, they will feature five prominent printmaking artists and will continue creating printmaking pieces.
During the visiting artist week, Marie Oberkirsch, the executive director of the non-profit, brought a clamshell and a flatbed vintage portable press, both of which date back nearly a century.
Each grade participated in hands-on printmaking and discussed the art form. The conversations included topics such as the mechanics of printmaking and press operation, the role of automation and the impact of letterpress on how the world communicates. The experience proved unique and fascinating for all students.
Throughout the visiting artist week, pre-kindergarten through first grade students focused on shapes and colors, printing with wood shapes carved by the artists, as well as block numbers and letters. They explored primary and secondary colors. Carrie Keasler, a Central Print educator who specializes in printmaking and bookmaking, helped the students focus on literacy and speech through printed type.
Second, fifth and sixth grade students worked with printmaker Julie Davis to focus on the principles of science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM). They used the antique machines to make postcards and other images. As a part of the creative process, the classes investigated the technical issues such as type height and font size, reversal, opacity and transparency in ink.
“The thoughtful process of the handset lettering surprised everyone,” said Mrs. Tipton. “For every line printed, you would have to pick up every letter and place it down backward.”
Making a site visit to Central Print, third and fourth grade students rotated through three stations. After learning about the history of the print press and watching a press process demonstration, the students then printed their own postcards using wooden blocks on a clamshell press. Following, Central Print held an open house for all students and their families to tour the studio.
“For kids with a mechanical mind and those who love to see how things work, this was a very exciting week,” said Mrs. Tipton. “That aspect of the art really motivated them.”
The visiting artist experience culminates with Wilson’s young artists exhibiting their work during the Family Art of Science Night. Central Print will host a station for students and parents to create together.
Thank you to the Excellence Program for allowing Central Print to enrich the lives of Wilson students. Said Ms. Signor, “This was something new for the children that they would not have learned without the visiting artist program.”
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