Monday, January 26, 2015

Women's Studio Workshop: Art-in-Education Residency

I am currently in upstate New York doing an Art-in-Education Artist Book Residency at the Women's Studio Workshop. Its just the start of my second week of the ten-week residency. I teach papermaking to eight-graders for two days every other week. So far I have taught one class and it was great fun! While I am here I will be working on a new book project. The book questions the taxonomical system of classification, Systema Naturae, created by Carl Linnaeus, currently in place and widely used by us today. During the research phase of this project I learned that the system does not take into account the fact that everything is constantly evolving. This was a problem- one that remains largely unsolved. The system is therefore somewhat arbitrary. To highlight this arbitrariness I devised my own classification system- one that categorizes things in the natural and man-made world according to their basic geometric shape. Very broad and arbitrary.

* Lizz just posted an update on the progress of my book on WSW website. Read it here.*

  This is the main building of WSW, where all the studios are

The printmaking

The paper making studio, where I am teaching the class

 A student from Bailey Middle School creating a self-portrait using embedments in
between a sheet of Corn and Abaca


 More wonderful self-portraits

Clean up was super-efficient and well done by the class

 This is an early mock-up of the book I am working on here. The cut-out shapes highlight the
illustrations/objects that fall into the category of the taxonomy of the circle

A pumpkin, a bulb, an octopus and a button are in the category of the circle


The taxonomy of the triangle   

Things like a pear, a slice of pie, a mountain, stamens, kites are all in the same category because they are all the same general shape of the triangle

  The latest mock-up of the pages looks something like this. Its easier to handle, and larger because it lacks two folds

  Creating new images. The earlier iteration of the book had the taxonomies of the circle, square, rectangle and triangle.
I decided not to include the rectangle since its more of a secondary geometric shape in my mind

An option instead of cutting out shapes was to make the paper for the overlays with the shapes as very fine watermarks. For this, we decided to expose a silkscreen and make a sheet of paper off it. I was excited about trying this out, because this could be adapted to so many other ideas!

Ellen, an intern here exposed the screen and got it ready for the experiment


The triangles appear!

Making the sheet using a small deckle

 It was almost immediately evident that this wasn't going to be a total success without a lot of fidgeting and tweaking

The finished sheet looked good enough for what it was, but it didn't come close to what I wanted. Only one shape on this sheet came out close to clear. Oh well. I am excited about trying more of this for another project though


  1. Bernie Vinzani taught a technique at PBI a couple of years ago that makes super efficient clean watermarks using a graphtec vinyl cutter. I'd be happy to fill you in on the details if you were interested.

    1. Yes, that would be great. I'm always interested in new ways of approaching my work!
      I really wanted to take that class but just couldn't fit PBI in that year.
      - Radha