Todd Anderson, assistant professor of printmaking in the art and design department created a trip of a lifetime in October 2009 when he invited four undergraduate art students to participate with him as visiting print-making artists.
Anderson was invited to be a “visiting artist for publication” at the prestigious Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop in New York City. Founded by renowned artist Robert Blackburn in 1948, the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop is a cooperative facility. Each year, artists from around the world attend RBPW to collaborate, experiment, and produce thousands of prints.
Anderson’s national reputation and the quality of his work spurred the invitation to the RBPW, and he was allowed to bring along four Bachelor of Fine Arts students with him: Travis Lawrence, Michael Pennekemp, Cayla Scherf and Tiffany Tate. “None of the students had been to New York before, and the trip was an experience to say the least!” Anderson said.
The students assisted Anderson with his work, learned new techniques from other master printers, and also created their own prints. “The experience helped students gain a new perspective on the art world,” Anderson said. “Students learned about the art market, how a professional artist approaches making art with a collaborator and how a print publication organization works.”
The group also found time to visit some other spots in the Big Apple. They took a tour of Face Editions, a blue-chip print publication company, where they were able to view dozens of $100,000-plus fine art projects “up close and personal,” Anderson said.
“Personally, I most enjoyed being with the students outside of the shop and traveling about the city,” Anderson said. He took the group to the Guggenheim Museum and Museum of Modern Art, as well as other short excursions like walking the Brooklyn Bridge at night.
Senior printmaking major Michael Pennekamp described the trip as motivating and interesting.
“While we were there, we were exposed to so much different artwork at museums, personally and up close,” Pennekamp said. “We got to converse with ‘real artists’ and learn about how they live their day-to-day lives. It’s all about putting your best foot forward in art, and we all made the most of our experience.”
Pennekamp went as far as to say that the experience instilled within him a desire to move to New York following his graduation from SIUE. “I’d love to try to work in print shops, like the one we were in, and try to live out that experience.”
Senior printmaking major Travis Lawrence gained valuable insight from the trip.
“It was great to see people out there doing what I am studying and applying it in a city known for being difficult to survive in,” Lawrence said. “This trip allowed me to see how printmaking is applied in a career and professional setting. I became more aware of the difficulties in actually surviving on art alone, and also inspired to see people who have to work hard in order to live in a demanding city, such as New York, and passionately making time to create.”
While I only required the students to be working with me from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., all the students continued to work late into the night on their own artwork at the studio,” Anderson said. “The printers and workers at the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop were certainly impressed with our SIUE students.”