With help from Visiting Artist Claudia Fieo P’21, and inspiration from the collections at the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum, printmaking students created an artist’s book. The Visual Arts department, Bowdoin Libraries, and the Peary MacMillan Arctic Museum came together to celebrate the book’s completion at a launch on Wednesday.
This is not the first time that Arctic Museum collections have supplemented a printmaking class. Students usually study Inuit prints, but this year the class engaged with objects with interesting textures from the collection as inspiration for their work. Arctic Museum Curator Genny LeMoine worked closely with Associate Professor of Art Carrie Scanga to select the pieces.
“I went through and looked at mostly sculptures because that’s where you find the most interesting textures,” LeMoine said. “Rather than looking at the content of the sculpture, which is often what interests me, [I looked] at the surface of it and things like that.”
The process began with printmaking students heading to the museum to select their objects and drawing some of the pieces that had been pulled.
“It was interesting to watch them drawing in the galleries,” said LeMoine. “We do sometimes get people coming in and sitting down and drawing but to have a whole class in space… it was great.”
Students then spent most of their class time making prints. One of the most difficult aspects of the project was determining which prints would be put into the book and in what order.
“What is the first print that we want to see when you first open the book? Do you want to be shocked?” Gemma Kelton ’22 said.
The class had to work together to find a way to put individual prints together so that they formed a story rather than a collection of individual works.
“I don’t think it turned out boring at all,” said Maia Granoski ’22. “I think it turned out pretty well.”
Despite stressful moments, students enjoyed the artistic process. Kelton had never done printmaking before but reflected positively on the experience.
“I didn’t really know what printmaking was, but I was like ‘I’m here for a reason, and that’s to try anything and everything I can,’” said Kelton.
The Arctic Museum hopes to have more students and departments use its resources in this manner. The staff emphasized how amazing it was to have a chance to work with a class in this way and how they look forward to potentially collaborating in other projects of this nature.
“I had no idea what to expect until I saw them here today, and they’re really amazing,” said LeMoine. “This is delightful and we’ve been talking with [Scanga] about exhibiting them in the museum.”
Arctic Museum Director Susan Kaplan seconded LeMoine’s point.
“We love to see our collection used in lots of different ways. We have people in history, archaeology and anthropology and art history use the collection,” she said. “To have the printmaking students use it in yet another way is really exciting.”