The Magical Art of Printmaking

In a world of instant reproduction, how do we help students understand that before cameras, copy machines and scanners was printmaking?

Born of necessity, printmaking was an art form developed to duplicate images dating back to 3000 BCE. A process that started with stone as its medium has continued to evolve and change, captivating artist like Picasso and Matisse along the way. Marionne Fort, the art teacher at Northview Middle School, felt a creative expression that enthused Matisse could inspire Northview Middle School artists too!

Mrs. Fort’s vision was to bring Robin McBride Scott as an artist-in-residence to Northview so that students could learn directly from an award-winning printmaker. However, bringing Ms. Scott, with Arts for Learning (The Indiana affiliate of Young Audiences) to Indianapolis fell outside of the Northview Art Department budget. Mrs. Fort hoped a grant through The Advancement Center might make her idea a reality.

A goal of The Advancement Center donor is to help teacher’s access resources that expand learning and create exceptional educational experiences for students. And as stewards of donor dollars, The Advancement Center grants committee knew they could help.

Robin McBride Scott has been an artist in residence for the Eiteljorg and worked on projects through the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indians. But for a couple of weeks in December 2018, thanks to a grant from The Advancement Center for Washington Township Schools and North Central Alumni, she came to Washington Township to do a residency at Northview Middle School.

Under Ms. Scott’s direction Northview students studied the historical significance of printmaking. They discussed the art forms impact on keeping culture, symbols and traditions alive. Drawing inspiration from zentangle prints and tutorials they practiced the exploration of lines, depth, reverse imaging and the power of negative space in a small introductory project.  This initial hands on exercise allowed students the experience of cause and effect in action. They used the pieces to reflect on what worked and why as well as what did NOT work and why.

Marvin, an 8th grader at Northview, used his small project to practice lettering techniques. The mirror image nature of printmaking requires an artist to be thoughtful with the preliminary work needed to achieve the desired end result. Marvin also realized that his project could have more depth if he developed a more detailed design. This gained knowledge was then able to be applied to his final larger final piece.

A new semester is well underway at Northview. Ms. Scott will not physically be in the classroom to inspire the students in printmaking, but the impact of the experience and the medium itself live on. The students now have additional artistic tools as part of their creative thinking in new mediums.