Hands-On Art: Young Artists in the Studio

November 4, 2014 by


WSW is abuzz with young artistic minds for the fall session of our Art-in-Education (AIE) program, Hands-On Art. We’re collaborating with Kingston High School to bring 18 senior art students into our studios, allowing their ideas to evolve outside the boundaries of a classroom. By giving them access to professional equipment and teaching them new techniques, we are not only broadening their minds, but also helping them to strengthen their portfolios for college.


Our fall program began with a one-day session of Chemistry & Paper, which introduces KHS  chemistry students to papermaking and creates a bridge between the arts and sciences. Like chemical formulae, papermaking requires precision, and the outcome can be infinitely variable depending on fiber and pH balance. Caustic substances such as soda ash are used to neutralize the pH of pulp fibers, breaking down the acidic cell walls and making paper archival. These students followed raw plant fibers through the whole papermaking process, beginning by harvesting plants at our ArtFarm and ending with their own handmade sheets.

The remainder of AIE benefits AP Studio Art students, who’ll join us in the studios once a week for four weeks to learn hand papermaking, etching, and silkscreening techniques. Working in small groups, the students rotate through each studio and return to their favorite on the final day.

Libby Scarlett, who’s traveled from London for our AIE Artist’s Book Residency, is taking students through the steps required for a two-color screenprint. Our young artists come prepared with their own images, but the silkscreening is done in-house: exposing and cleaning their own screens, mixing inks, and pulling prints. Because they’re making multicolor prints, they’ll repeat this process and experiment with placement and layering. Libby’s goal is for students to come out of each session with five strong prints.


In the papermaking studio is Barbara Landes, who’s come from Wisconson for our AIE Workspace Residency. She’s teaching students about a range of paper fibers and techniques. Each day our young artists begin by learning about their fibers—cotton, cattail, and an abaca/rye mix—and get to watch as cotton goes through the beater. In addition to learning basics like sheet pulling and couching with found materials, they’ll learn stenciling and pulp painting, which allows them to experiment with contrasting fibers and layers.


Intern alumna and regular WSW volunteer Cheyenne Mallo is heading the classes in etching, and guiding students through the printmaking process. She’s covering many techniques, including drypoint, stenciling, collagraphy, plate alteration (creating and working with shaped plates), and multiple plate registration. Our young artists come prepared with an idea or drawing and develop it throughout the session, ending with a series of prints for their portfolios.


We are absolutely thrilled to begin another season of Hands-On Art and to have the studios bustling with young minds. The joy of connecting students to their art never wears away, even with nearly 30 years of AIE programing at WSW. We welcome the community to share in our excitement and join us for a culminating show of the students’ work, which will take place the first weekend in December. Stay tuned to Facebook and the blog for more details!

This is the first of two posts on our fall Hands-on Art program, and you can read the second here. Check out our website or contact us at [email protected] for more information.