Politics Meets Introductory Print Course
Political movements call for change through protests, speeches or executive actions by national leaders. But in Ithaca College’s Introductory Print Media class, art is a means of social justice.
The course is taught by Paloma Barhaugh-Bordas, Assistant Professor in the Department of Art. The class meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:10 am at 3:40 p.m.. at the Ceracche Center. Barhaugh-Bordas said the class is running among days of research, sculpture and printing.
On printing days, the extended class time allows students to unwind their ink, test their print registration and soak their paper. Prior to these stages, however, students spend their time thinking about and researching the subjects they will draw, sculpt, and print.
Freshman Sam Khoo Wien said due to Barhaugh-Bordas’ teaching style the class is fine structure.
“As a person with [attention deficit disorder], my mind is everywhere, âhe said. “So today she helped me to really clarify where I was going with my project and what I really wanted to say. I think it’s something I’ve really never experienced with a teacher before.
Khoo Wien fashioned his first project for the class around a political statement. Spurred on by recent impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump Khoo Wien printed an image reminiscent of a leaflet that US troops drop on the battlefields during the war in Afghanistan. On the leaflets, the poster said “We look!” in arabic and targeted the Taliban. Beside the words, a black-and-white image showed former Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar in a crosshairs.
Khoo Wien’s print doesn’t feature a specific person in the reticle but rather a silhouette. Below the target figure is the phrase “Where are the witnesses?” The cherry red image and accompanying phrase are printed several times on a large white billboard.
âWith the impeachment hearings, it was really powerful for me to see that there were no witnesses, and it was causing a storm in me,â he said. âPeople are talking about it, and they’reâ¦ disappointed, but I feel like there should be people on the street. There should be some really upset people about this. But hey, I guess I’ll just do some art.
After an afternoon of brainstorming on current student projects, Barhaugh-Bordas broadcastst a print on the classroom whiteboard with a message in yellow Capital city letters: âBoycott the grapesâ. The decades-old print was a call to action from the Union of United Agricultural Workers (UFW), led by Cesar Chavez and made up of Mexicans American workers. In the 1960s and 1970s, UFW urged consumers to stop buying grapes because by farmwCalifornian workers have done as little as $ 0.90 per hour, plus $ 0.10 per basket collected.
The âBoycott Grapesâ print was created by Xavier Viramontes, and the unconventional slogan and striking design have become iconic of the UFW campaign. Barhaugh-Bordas said that the iconographic and symmetrical nature of the print by Viramontes is the source of the work’s power.
Barhaugh-Bordas said that when she lived in San Francisco, she studied with Viramontes at City College of San Francisco Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture. At the time, she was choosing whether or not to work in the moonlight as an artist. The semester cost $ 90 and Viramontes’ class allowed her six hours of work per week.
“[Viramontes] LED [the class] with an incredibly patient approach, âshe said. “I think that’s a lesson I take from a lot of my teachers, … that [printmaking] is a space which, as politics enters a lot in the media,â¦ we encourage you to explore and explain your ideas through your images and to do so in a way that is hopefully truly moving and powerful.
After the initial drawing, students carve the negative space of their sketches out of wooden blocks, a typical medium used in the classroom. These sculptures are printed on top of each other, usually on separate days to keep the layers polished.
For his project, second student Sebastian Chavez explores the roots of the Chicano arts and culture movement, which originated in the southwestern United States. The movement began in the 1960s when Latino students fought for better education and better health. care after immigrating from Mexico.
Chavez uses an eagle, Which one is a symbol of unity on the Chicano front, in his print, but he chose to draw it upside down to represent the loss of identity he claimed Latinos experienced in the United States. From the bottom of the eagle, branches and cacti grow which represent the ancestral foundations of the Chicanos.
“The Chicano movement is not the same because we are [in] a new era, âhe said. “This is why it grows in cacti or in branches where we speak, but the foundation of it is the Chicano movement. We tend to forget who came before us and how [we can] learn from them and how people are mobilizing.
Chavez is a major in politics with a minor in Latino / a studies. He said he chose to take the printmaking course because of the strong connection between the medium and his specialty.
“Engraving [has] a very important role through political movements, âsaid Chavez. âSome of the most famous campaigns,â¦ banners, protest posters contain engravings. â¦ It’s amazing how much people can put their effortsâ¦ in [an] work of art to make a statement on howâ¦ they last everyday.
Artists turned political statements into works of art. that of Pablo Picasso “Guernica” was a quick reaction to the bombing of Guernica, a basque city in Spain, by the Nazis. It is considered a biting representation of the physical toll war attacks innocent people. Banksy, a currentis lying Anonymous street artist, based in England, forges graffiti on street corners and behind buildings. The artwork often criticizes social media, excessive violence, and political or social corruption.
Barhaugh-Bordas said she was impressed with the students’ focus on their projects. Although the process is slow, steady, and usually progresses over a few days, she said. she hopes the students can leave the classroom with new skills.
âMy interest is more in the students to find out what really interests them and pursue it,â she said. “I think art is a space where you can really invent and where you are asked to generate your own ideas. [and] pursue what is meaningful to you, personally, every day.