In support of The Occuprint Portfolio exhibition, the Bates Museum of Art hosted a workshop for local families that served as an introduction to printmaking. Around ten lucky kids with their parents and grandparents got to create prints with all kinds of materials, from the classy linoleum paper to the unexpected piece of broccoli.
The Occuprint Portfolio exhibition from our own Museum of Art features over 30 silkscreen prints which display symbols from the Occupy Movement. To continue the printmaking theme, Museum Education Intern Hannah Gottlieb ’16 decided to host a family printmaking event not only to showcase the exhibit but also to teach printmaking to families and show how easy it can be. For the first portion of the workshop, Gottlieb led the families on a tour of the exhibit and even showed them examples of relief prints from the collection made just for the workshop. Then the families moved to the Benjamin Mays Center to get hands-on experience with printmaking.
The kids, and even the parents, had a blast with the printmaking. The Mays Center was transformed into a legitimate art studio and everyone was covered in paint by the end. Gottlieb showed the families many different materials that could be used to make prints, some were household objects and some a little fancier. All the tables were stocked with paper and paint rollers as a basic starter kit. Then they were given fun items such as cookie cutters, plastic lizards, toy cars, bubble wrap and even broccoli. (I wasn’t lying!)
Then the kids just went to town. They used the toys as paint brushes, the car wheels and bubble wrap to create textures, and the cookie cutters to make outlines of animals. The next material used was linoleum paper, which is a variant of woodcut and is used as a relief surface. The kids created a template with the linoleum paper which they used to make prints. Then they wiped off the paint and used the template to their heart’s content. The next material was a slab of jelly, which the kids absolutely loved. They cut the jelly into any shape they wanted; the paint came off the jelly so easily that they could reuse it. Some of the kids might have been more interested in cutting the jelly than the printing, but it’s the fun that counts.
Gottlieb is a History major and Educational Studies minor who is spending this semester as the Education Intern at the Bates Museum as part of her Education minor. Since Gottlieb is interested in pursuing museum education after graduation, this workshop has been an opportunity for her to “step into the shoes of a museum educator and learn what it takes to plan a program from start to finish.” With the help of Anthony Shostak, the Education Curator of the museum, and some of her friends, Gottlieb ran the event from start to finish. She worked from the planning stage, to putting flyers up, to running the actual event, and finally to the eventual all hands on deck cleaning paint off the Mays center.
The kids in the program ranged from age four all the way to age ten.There was a four year old printing prodigy, Blake, who along with some Bates students, created a robot stamp with the linoleum paper. When asked what material was his favorite, Blake, with paint literally all over himself including his face, could not pick one and had to go with “all of them!” Katrina Dennis, a fourth grade teacher at the McMahon school, brought her daughter Peyton and her mother (even though Peyton wanting her grandfather to take her). Peyton made close to twenty prints using almost every kind of material, although her favorite was the linoleum. Even Peter Wong brought his daughter. Another popular material was of course the broccoli.
The coolest part of printmaking is how easy it is! All you need is paint and a roller. Once you have those, take some paper from a printer (don’t actually) and take a piece of broccoli from Commons (a questionable suggestion but better than stealing paper) and you have yourself a print.