Printmaking: Working Outside Your Comfort Zone
What happens when a new faculty member in the Printmaking Department at the Cleveland Institute of Art decides not only to think outside the box but also move the class out of the studio into the parking lot?
Barbara Chira proposed to Pr int Department head Maggie Denk-Leigh a risky project that became known as “The Big Squeeze,” and after she laid out the plans, timelines and logistics, she got the support she needed to go ahead. The idea was for students to make large scale prints using a piece of construction equipment commonly known as a “steamroller.”
Key was the identification and collection of suitable materials and equipment, in order to set up a “studio” outdoors and create large -scale prints not possible with traditional indoor presses. This included what to use to build 4’x8’ collagraphic plates, finding the right size paper with the required characteristics to stand up to the demands of a steamroller, damping the paper prior to the printing and creating inking and drying stations.
All this took place the last part of the Spring semester, when the ten students in this credit- bearing class were creating their final projects. There was very little wiggle room in the timeline, except for a one week rain date built in. The CIA Facilities staff were very accommodating, as were the Marketing people who help spread the word and document the event. The owner of the Parking Lot Maintenance donated the use of the road roller for printing day, along with the operator. A large part of the lot was closed off while other students joined including a few passersby from CASE to help and enjoy the energy and the spectacle of the day.