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Peek Into UVA’s Irresistible Printmaking Studio

Published May 9, 2017 in News

By: Dan Addison & Caroline Newman | University Communications

Third-year University of Virginia students Brenna Monk and Kaia Dunne have a hard time staying away from the printmaking studio.

When required classes for their other majors conflicted with the advanced printmaking classes they wanted to take, the friends, who met during a printmaking class their first year, contacted associate studio art professor Akemi Ohira to arrange an independent study.

“We knew we could not stay away from the studio, so we needed another outlet if we weren’t able to be in the class,” said Dunne, a member of the club swim team who is studying chemistry and studio art.

Ohira, right, met with Monk, left, and Dunne to demonstrate the technique of intaglio printing, in which images are etched onto metal plates with sunken grooves to hold ink.

Ohira arranged for Monk and Dunne to learn intaglio printing, a technique that involves submerging zinc plates in an acid bath, etching designs onto the softened metal and applying different layers of ink to print the designs. Specifically, she challenged the students to use three different layers of color in their prints, making the process significantly more difficult.

“Printmaking is all about problem-solving,” Ohira said. “You really have to understand how to combine each of the different processes to make an image work. It’s fascinating, and sometimes it can be frustrating.”

“There are so many variables that could go wrong. It could be the roller, the pressure level of the printing press, the acid, the order of the steps,” said Monk, who is studying arts administration and is also on UVA’s club figure skating team. “I love the medium in part because it forces you to fail. It really pushes you to think, and it’s awesome to know that we are encouraged to come here and think outside of the box.”

The students, who are also both docents at UVA’s Fralin Museum of Art, worked in the printmaking studio throughout the semester. UVA Today checked in with them several times to watch their prints progress.

Take a look at the process and the finished products below.

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