Art-in-Ed: Research, Experimentation, Discovery

December 1, 2017 by


For WSW’s fall Art-in-Education program, we asked young artists from Kingston High School to consider the following question: What is research for the artist?

Rotating through disciplines in small groups, students focused on a different material every day and derived a new lesson from each one that extended beyond technique. They studied the material potential of fibers in papermaking, expanded their understanding of layered information in silkscreen, and tested variables as part of the monoprinting process in the intaglio studio.

New papermakers pulled fresh sheets of pulp only to tear them apart and cast paper sculptures around everything from soap dispensers to alarm clocks. After hours of close examination and careful molding, they began to see these everyday objects as independent shapes or even works of art. As components or data points.

While in the intaglio studio, students made one-of-a-kind prints, or monoprints, by combining found images and textured objects with different techniques for applying ink. This particular way of printing encourages artists to work in a series, often using the same inked plate for multiple pulls while manipulating the information a little bit each time. Senior Micah Fornari wrote, “[intaglio] forced me to adapt… it made me think more creatively about how I could use the materials.” Judging from the variety of prints created in intaglio this October, it’s clear Micah wasn’t the only one who felt this way.

Just upstairs in silkscreen, students were learning to separate imagery into layers of information. They began the morning by coating screens and composing backdrops for drawn images out of hand-cut paper stencils. By meshing these together, they practiced rearranging different types of visual information into unique compositions, creating works that were abstract, illustrative, or some combination of the two.

Students supplemented their daily practice with independent research, bringing in both original and found imagery to experiment with new concepts. After three weeks–one day of intensive practice in each studio–these artists had the opportunity to focus on their favorite medium and apply what they learned to create personal, inquiry-based work.

Our week-four papermakers got a foundational lesson in book arts, taught by Studio Manager, Chris Petrone.

Students in intaglio worked with Artist-in-Residence, Ewelina Skowronska, with the help of studio intern Morgan Allen, to further explore texture and collage through monoprinting.

As for the silkscreen artists, they focused on layering color with Artist’s Book Resident Tona Wilson, assisted by studio intern Serena Hocharoen.

Over four weeks of research and material exploration, we saw students make some incredibly diverse and complex work. If you’re curious about what they made, come check it out! These young artists installed their work at PUGG over the weekend (find the poster here), a local pop-up gallery in Kingston, NY. The show will remain on view through the month of December, Saturdays from 12:00-5:00 PM and Wednesdays from 3:30-6:00 PM.

So, what is research for the artist?
Intern Serena Hocharoen (above) offers: “[Research] is everything. It’s drawing, it’s experimenting… it’s living.” The Art-in-Education program’s mission certainly aligns with this understanding. By inviting artists at all different stages in their lives to learn and create together, we’re reminded that art is about cultivating a daily practice of discovery.