Printmaking Gallery features student artwork


Ava Westreich and Divya Ponda

The HM Gallery’s Printmaking exhibit, which is flooded with bold, bright, distinctive colors, features a variety of styles of prints, covering the topics of Faces & Places Monotypes, Silhouettes with a Marble Design, and Culture Blockprints.

The first group of prints in the gallery is part of a series titled Faces & Places Monotypes. “They were prints inspired by the people and places that are really important to us and help define who we are, and so there was a huge range in the people and the places that students chose to inspire their prints,” art teacher Mirrie Choi said.

Students first sketched or printed images to place below a clear printing plate. They then painted their images onto the printing plate and put them through the press to print their designs onto paper, Choi said. The artists chose whether they wanted to print in black and white or color. “It is really beautiful because using that style of printing, you can capture all of the textures and subtle differences in the ways that people paint by hand,” she said.

Julia Cassino’s (10) monotype was an illustration of Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Cassino also contributed a print of her grandparents on their wedding day and another print of a bridge in Italy, all falling under the Faces & Places Monotypes. After completing the print of her grandparents, Cassino made a copy of it, framed it, and gave it to her grandmother. “That was a nice moment,” she said.

Ryan Webb (12) contributed a piece of a leopard with a tree in the background for the Faces & Places Monotypes. The leopard and tree print only uses two colors: red for the background and black for the leopard and tree, highlighting the focus points in the print, he said.

The second group of pieces in the gallery, the Marbled Silhouettes, were created by taking paper and floating ink on top of the water, Choi said. From there, students took prints off of the surface of the water and used exacto knives to cut out the silhouettes, which were then inked and printed on top of the marbled backgrounds, she said.

The Marbled Silhouettes project produced a wide variety of exciting creations because of the personal nature of the project, Choi said. “It could be a personal story, a memory, a personal narrative, [or] a folktale,” she said.

Webb contributed a marbleized print of a baseball player up to bat, the background of which was blue, green, and white. The silhouette was a baseball player outlined and filled with the color black. “[My favorite piece was] probably the baseball player because I do play baseball, so it’s something that’s personal for me, and it’s interesting to draw,” he said.

The third set of prints, the Culture Blockprints project, inspired Julia Phillips (9) to create prints of the hamsa symbol. “Our assignment was to do something that has to do with culture, and in the Jewish culture, the hamsa is for protection,” she said.

For the Culture Blockprints project, students used a rubber block instead of the printing press. They then carved out the image they chose to print, added ink onto the block, and put the block on the paper to press the image, Phillips said.

Parker Wischhover (10) made a print of a Lithuanian Bun inspired by his family. “It reminds me of my family,” he said. “Especially now, during COVID, when I’ve been spending lots of time with my family, it’s good to have something to remember them with.”

Charlie Seo (10) made a monkey, a symbol of the Lunar New Year, he said. “Most of my inspiration comes from my family, cultural background, and extracurriculars that I enjoy.”

The printmaking process is long but yields a complex work of art at the end. Cassino’s Ruth Bader Ginsberg print took five classes to make, while her other prints took three or four classes, she said.

The time Phillips’ prints take varies, primarily due to the breaks caused by HM Online 2.0, she said. “It took a little bit longer because we weren’t meeting as regularly, but I think a print could take around one or two weeks.”

On the other hand, Webb said a piece typically takes him anywhere from 45 minutes to two classes. The time variations for each piece are due to the complexity of the illustrations in the print he is creating.

Sam Perlman (10) contributed a smeared image of George Washington as his monotype and a piece of Michael Jordan playing basketball as his Marbled Silhouette. “I spent two to three classes just to exacto-knife the Michael Jordan piece, but then there are some instances where I decided I had 30 minutes left in class, and I was like, ‘I want to try doing George Washington,’ so I just did that one,” Perlman said. “It all just depends on how much time you have and how much time you are willing to put into it.”

Once the prints were completed, students could see their collections featured in the gallery. “I was really impressed with everyone in my class and in the other class,” Phillips said. “I thought all of the work really came together.”

“I found it really interesting to see all of my classmates’ works and how even under the same topic that I had, they could make something really different and creative out of it,” Wischhover said. “I also learned a lot about my classmates and about what they did, especially with the culture prompt. I learned a lot about their interests and about who they were.”

Webb’s favorite aspect of printmaking is the freedom to create projects that are meaningful to him, he said. “I like being able to make art for topics that I’m interested in and seeing how they come out.”

Wischhover is fond of the printmaking process because it differs from other artistic processes, he said. “It sways away from the traditional methods, like drawing and painting, because there are just so many things that you can do with it,” Wischhover said. “While it may yield the same result as if you are painting, I think that it’s the process that makes it so special.”

“Printmaking is a really great way to learn more about our identities, which is both fun and important to explore,” Choi said. “There’s an element of suspense throughout the whole process — you never really know what your piece will look like once it’s printed. It’s magical.”