April 2015, Volume 19, Number 2



Woodcuts Help Wounded Fly

This spring, in another demonstration of MDC giving back to the community, a group of students taking a two-dimensional design course at Wolfson Campus are learning a traditional printing technique and supporting an important regional nonprofit at the same time.

On a visit to the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center, Professor Claudia Scalise, an avid birder, was taken aback by the woeful selections in the gift shop, so she decided to do something about it. She proposed to her students that they focus on bird themes for the woodblock print section of the 2-D design course. Each student is donating one of the prints from the edition they make in the class for sale in an online auction. The center gets needed funds from the auction to help fulfill its mission of rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing native birds while the MDC students get their first professional piece for their portfolios. The images also potentially might be used by the center on other merchandise, such as bookmarks or stickers. A fall auction raised $700 for the center, and Scalise said that the spring auction is set to surpass that.

Mastering Complex Techniques

The artwork for sale in the auction demonstrates the mastery of a challenging print technique. A wide variety of birds are depicted by the MDC students participating in the project, including water fowl, raptors, owls and songbirds. The renderings reflect the varied artistic styles and approaches available to woodcut prints, a technique of removal where print artists must cut the surface of the wood from around the image they wish to make, essentially leaving behind the positive image on the face of the wood block to ink and print.

“These students are using complex techniques and sometimes multiple pressings in order to make the prints,” Scalise explained. “There is a lot of creativity, but the prints also demand careful planning and good technique to be successful.”

A Mind for Logistics

Helping shepherd the project is Britany Ziems, AmeriCorps VISTA program coordinator at MDC’s Earth Ethics Institute, which handled the online logistics of the sale.

“Our collaborative project provides an essential blend of showcasing student creativity, bringing awareness to local environmental issues and fostering community support for local nonprofits,” Ziems said. “We look forward to continuing this project through the spring and launching another one with the next semester in the fall.”

To see the work of the MDC students and learn how to place a bid, go to tinyurl.com/MDCwoodcut.

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