Animal Motifs + Relief Printing = Classroom Quilts

By: Catie Anderson, curator of education

I met printmaker Sherrie York late Sunday evening at the Central Wisconsin Airport where she arrived after a harrowing day of travel to begin a two-week printmaking residency, which kicked off early Monday morning. During her residency, Sherrie and I will work with over 150 area students, first onsite at the Woodson Art Museum and then again in their classrooms. The students’ Museum visits begin in the Wild Fabrications and Explorations in Wood galleries where they observe pattern and texture found in the studio art quilts, depicting animals. The students are encouraged to snap photos for reference as they consider potential designs for their relief-print blocks.

A great group of twenty-two students from Lincoln High School in Wisconsin Rapids braved the cold weather and long bus ride Monday morning for the first residency visit with Sherrie York.

Next, in the Museum’s lower-level classroom, the students work on thumbnail-sized sketches on graph paper, focusing on high-contrast, graphic designs to carve into their Speedycut blocks.

Students from Nekoosa High School try out different thumbnail designs before carving their blocks.

After Sherrie’s quick introduction to carving tools and the basics of relief printing, students began to carve designs onto their blocks.

Next week in classrooms throughout the region, students will print each of their 4”x4” blocks four times to create a larger square design on fabric, resulting in original “quilt blocks.”

To help students envision pattern possibilities, Sherrie created sample patterns for reference (examples below).

Midway through part one of the residency, Sherrie and I are already looking forward to next week when we’ll travel to participating schools for part two, when students print their blocks onto fabric.

Students aren’t the only ones enjoying Sherrie York’s extended visit to the Woodson Art Museum. Area art specialists are invited to call the Museum to register for a free printmaking workshop at the Museum this Saturday, February 10, 1-4 pm.

It’s always gratifying to work with guest artists, but it’s even more rewarding when we get to share their talents and enthusiasm with a wide audience. Sherrie’s two-week residency offers an exciting opportunity to team up with art students and educators for extended visits at the Museum and in their classrooms. To see results, watch the Art Museum’s Facebook page for photos of our on-the-road adventures in printmaking.


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