Friday, February 4, 2011

Quilts, Comics, and Community

During the first week of February (Spring Semester '11), Printmaking & Drawing majors at the Sam Fox School of Arts have been given the opportunity to work with the collaborative print shop Island Press and visiting artist Greely Myatt.

Island Press has a long history of collaborating with some of the United State's most up-and-coming or well-established printmakers; most recently Anne Hamilton, Tom Friedman, and Chris Duncan. This workshop is another element of what makes the Prinmaking major at Sam Fox so unique. Junior and Senior printmakers get the chance to work with these artists in an intimate setting, which allows for students to get real-world insight on what it is to be a practicing artist.

From working with Greely Myatt, it is easy to see that the idea of community is extremely important to him. Not just working with people, but working with the past of the people as well. His work consists of gathering found or discarded materials (wood and aluminum signage) and reforming, reshaping them to give them new life. The idea of the quilt is prevalent in his work as well. Many of his pieces bring to mind the quilts of Gee's Bend, which is not entirely ironic considering his Southern heritage.

Print projects with Mr. Myatt include large-format etchings and collographs based on his quilted collage of found signage and graphic comic strips. The importance of speech in the comic becomes subverted with the print series, "Word," "Another Word," and "The Last Word"- which originated as a collage made up of letters cut from such found signs. Majors were given the task of converting these letters into steel plate etchings, printed in colours reminiscent of the original signs. The same subversion occurs with the large-format collograph of empty speech bubbles and comic panels, where figures are removed completely and instead a textured, vivid yellow background appears. The final collaborative piece is made up of speech bubble collograph plates that fit together like a puzzle. Each major was assigned the task of designing their own bubble with a quilt pattern.

The Printmaking majors are lucky to have worked with such a humble and spirited printmaker/sculptor/multitalented artist as Greely Myatt. His warm accent and down-to-earth attitude are not likely to be forgotten. This sense of closeness and community will live on in the department as we have learned to work together to achieve a variety of goals.

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