Categories: Roxana Lopez, THE BUZZ

THE BUZZ: San Diego Mesa College revs up its printmaking program

Article by Roxana Lopez

April 28, 2021

Artist and college sculpture instructional lab technician Trevor Amery rolls ink onto his woodcut plate. Photo credit: Hai Duong

San Diego Mesa College goes full steam ahead as it sparks curiosity in their printmaking department with this monumental community art experience.

Museum Studies and Gallery Director of  San Diego Mesa College, Professor Alessandra Moctezuma introduced the idea of  a steamroller exhibition, resulting in a large-scale art collaboration among printmaking students, faculty, and Master Printer, Chris Lahti, of East County Printshop who was the lead artist conducting the workshops and assisting with the printing. Also, in collaboration was Professor Wendell Kling and their drawing class of 24 students. The students from the drawing class created small scale square woodcuts for the project. 

(Left to right) Printmaker Chris Lahti, Museum Studies student and artist Ty Creighton, Trevor Amery and Gallery Coordinator Jenny Armer create a layout with the student woodblocks. Photo credit: Hai Duong

In an effort to resurrect the once-thriving Printmaking program at San Diego Mesa College, Moctezuma and gallery coordinator, Jenny Armer, along with sixteen artists created a grand event that will surely inspire future generations of students to sign up for printmaking.

“Art students are wanting to go back to those hands-on techniques and to actually make things. Printing is such a fun technology–it’s just magic,” noted Professor Moctezuma.

The team applies the fabric and the protective paper. Professor Wendell Kling mans the steamroller that will go over his students’ blocks. Photo credit: Hai Duong

In a private event on April 21, 2021, that took place in a large, vacant  parking lot on campus; the making of their “Heavy Duty: A Steamroller Printmaking Exhibition” began.

Creating large scale fabric prints ranging from,  3’ x 5’ and 3’ x 4’, Mesa College is the first in San Diego County to organize a printmaking steamroller event and hopefully not the last. “With the facilities offered by institutions, you have greater abilities and are more easily able to have ambitious projects,” Lahti said.

Chris Lahti with the help of Professor and Gallery Director Alessandra Moctezuma lift the fabric to reveal the transferred image.
Photo credit: Hai Duong

The process of steamroller printing begins by applying plywood boards on the ground, then carefully inking the artist-designed, carved wooden plates. Each plate is then placed in a holding form and covered with fabric along with a  protective layer of padding. The steamroller then acts as a giant-size mobile printing press as is steadily driven over the artworks. This step happens at least twice to ensure a successful transfer.

With this, San Diego Mesa College has ignited a curiosity into a timeless art technique that will surely leave future students feeling that special sort of “magic” that Professor Moctezuma described.

This unique, must-see exhibition will be free to the public starting May 7th and will feature fabric prints by participating artists as well as two prints by Mesa College students. The artwork will be displayed along a chain-link fence for the drive-thru public exhibition. CLICK HERE for more information.

Featured artists: Trevor Amery, Jenny Armer, Jennifer Anne Bennett, Brian Gibson, Wendell Kling, Chris Lahti, Mary Manusos, Jim Melli, Morgan Miller the III, Yvette Roman, Sibyl Rubottom, Katie Ruiz, Jose Hugo Sanchez, Katy Yeaw, Samantha and Ty Creighton.

Lahti and Moctezuma hold up the print as they bring it into the art gallery to dry. Photo credit: Hai Duong
The gallery filled with prints waiting to dry and to be hung on the outdoor display. (Aida Valencia’s trees and Gloria Muriel’s paintings
in the background for the exhibition that is waiting to open since the shut down last March) Photo credit: Hai Duong
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