SPOTLIGHT ON THE ARTS: Drypoint etching


By Jane Miller

Every morning for three weeks, I would wake up to croissants and hot chocolate, walk to the nearest Metro stop and spend all day either working in a printmaking shop or drawing in the Louvre. While it sounds like a scene right out of Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, it actually reflects the experience of twelve students from Union College who were given the chance to experience this dream for three weeks over winter break.

The “City of Lights,” as Paris is fondly nicknamed, provided an artistically centered culture in which Union students could immerse themselves while studying printmaking.

Led by Professor Sandra Wimer from the studio art department, the “Drawn to Print” Paris mini-term gave students the chance not only to explore the architectural wonders and incredible museums that Paris has to offer, but also to create their own art in a Parisian print studio through the medium of drypoint etching.

Drypoint involves taking copper plates and scratching deep lines into them that can trap ink. After the artist creates an image on a plate, it is then covered with ink. The excess is wiped off of the plate, leaving the image in black that can be run through a printing press. Aside from working in a Parisian print shop, students also had the unbelievable opportunity to draw in the Louvre twice a week. The ability to sit and sketch some of the world’s most famous pieces of art, including Venus de Milo and Winged Victory of Samothrace, was an incredible learning experience for all, even for those whom did not have much experience with printmaking.

“As the least artistic art history major, I was nervous about six hour drawing sessions in the Louvre for two days a week,” said Cosette Shachnow ’14, one of the twelve mini-term participants. “However, I found that my experience drawing and in the studio really helped me expand my knowledge of art history and especially helped me understand the drypoint technique.”

The trip also gave students a chance to expand their cultural knowledge of Paris through trips to the famous Versailles, seats at modern ballet at the beautiful Palais Garnier, and museum days during which students could explore Paris’s many artistic collections.

Many of the prints produced by the students were inspired by statues in the Louvre and other museums around Paris. Each student was responsible for creating a portfolio of sixteen prints and at least sixteen completed sketches from the Louvre during our trip. Forty of the prints created by students are currently displayed in the Arts Annex in the Visual Arts building. The prints, which include images of Greek statues, Napoleon’s apartments, and other beautiful architecture, showcase the students’ artistic achievements throughout those short but sweet three weeks in Paris.

There will be a reception for the Paris Prints Exhibition on Thursday, January 24, from 4:30 to 5:45 PM in the Arts Annex.


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