After ten years of teaching college art I decided to experience life from the other side - as a student, a much better side I might add. Favianna Rodriguez's inspiring post on the Justseeds blog last year about her experience taking a class with Enrique Chagoya at the Anderson Ranch in Snowmass, Colorado inspired me to sign up for the same course this year. So a few weeks back, I loaded up the truck and headed West with the goal of learning new printmaking techniques and experimenting with new forms of image making.
The second I arrived at the AR I knew that I had made a good choice. The place is an art factory and a hub of creativity offering workshops in painting, sculpture, printmaking, ceramics, photography, woodworking, and a host of other mediums.
The course that I enrolled in focused on monotype printmaking or in Chagoya's words - the painted print. Many might already know his name. He is an exceptional artist - one of the great contemporary printmakers and political artists working today - who has exhibited in museums around the world and has collaborated with the likes of Manuel Ocampo and Guillermo Gómez-Peña to name a few. He is originally from Mexico City and is a long time Bay Area resident and a professor at Standford University. Despite his vast achievements, he is humble down-to-earth person and a true character who kept the class laughing and inspired all week.
Chagoya structured the 5-day class around demos, open studio times, and a final critique. Introduced were xerox transfers with winter green oil, gum arabic transfers, dry point, and various techniques to add color layers.
Chagoya was an fantastic instructor who brought much to the table. I particularly appreciated how he introduced 1-2 new techniques per day and his emphasis on using non-toxic materials. He truly captivated us for the class ran from 9-5 each day and it was the norm for everyone to be back in the studio from 7-midnight. Some would arrive at 6am to get back at it.
By the end of the week it had become obvious that the class was full of 12 teachers. Everyone was fueling off each others work, sharing tips, helping each other out, and inspiring one another with their work.
For me personally, I convinced myself prior to the workshop that I would experiment and try new styles, but that proved easier said then done. Instead, I tended to fall back on my comfort zone and employed imagery that is typical of my work. I gravitated away from the multiple color layers that many others used. That said, some new directions emerged that will be very helpful for future print work to come. Here are a few examples:
All the black lines/imagery were produced by winter green transfers. The yellow background color is from a litho ink roll up which created a beautiful transparent layer.
Images that celebrate two of my many heroes - Grace Lee Boggs and Emma Goldman:
More winter green transfers - this time of machine animal collages:
Gum arabic transfer. Roots bloody roots!
Here also is some work by other students in the class. Everyone made between 25-50 prints during the week and below is a small sampling of what can be achieved with the mono print technique.
Next are examples of Chagoya's work (color lithographs) from an exhibition held in a gallery in Aspen - 20 minutes away from the AR. (Note to the Occupy movement: occupy the Aspen airport and the field of private jets next time and you will cripple the 1%. It is unreal just how much hyper wealth exists in that town.)
Last, but not least, is a picture of the fearless press and Chagoya in complimentary mode:
As you might gather, I highly recommend the AR and particularly Chagoya's monoprint class. The instructors, the facilities, housing and the food at AR are all exceptional and help explain the high costs of the workshops. That said, if others plan to apply to the AR, look into the scholarship program which can help make it more affordable. And as Favi noted on the blog last year these types of classes and experiences are an investment in ones life and ones art making practice. It will be hard not to look at next years catalog of classes and not be inspired to journey out west once again. The experience also got me thinking. What if Justseeds started its own residency program one day that focused on activist art and political printmaking? Hmmmm. What if.