Sue Messer and Max White sitting on a restaurant patio.

UW-Whitewater Artists Deliver Workshops in Oaxaca

Sue Messer and Max White sitting on a restaurant patio.
Sue Messer and Max White in Oaxaca

Congratulations to Max White and Sue Messer, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Art Department faculty, who conducted eight day workshops in the city of Oaxaca, Mexico during January, 2011. The two artists developed and led the workshops for students at the Museo de los Pintores Oaxaqueños (Museum of Oaxacan Painters – MuPO).  Under the direction of Maestro Juan Alcázar Méndez, the Museum is a world-class facility that provides exhibition opportunities to a new generation of Mexican artists, especially those from the state of Oaxaca. (Look for MuPO on Facebook. Become a friend.) Student participants in the workshops included both young and older adults from a variety of walks of life that included several working artists, architects, and at least one psycho-therapist.

Max instructs the class in printmaking techniques.
Max instructs the class in printmaking techniques.

Max White’s workshop introduced students to monotype, a printmaking approach in which every print is unique.  Students were exposed to several types of monotype printmaking. Among these were the direct “a la prima” painting method, the viscosity resist technique, the multiple drop transparent color technique, the stencil-making & split-fountain (color blend) roll technique, and the 2-plate drypoint monoprint approach. At the end of the workshop students were also exposed to the creation of intaglio and relief prints using solar plates. The latter process is noted for its environmental friendliness compared to traditional techniques of engraving.

Sue demonstrates making paste paper to the class.
Sue demonstrates making paste paper to the class.

In her workshop Sue Messer taught an introduction to artist books. Not to be confused with “artistic” books, artist books are complete creations of the artist. Often beginning with the making of the paper itself, the artist book is a remarkable form of sculpture that integrates the visual, the verbal, the conceptual, and the aesthetic. This workshop provided students with instruction in historic and contemporary accordion and codex bookbinding techniques. In the workshop participants created decorative papers and incorporated both traditional and nontraditional materials in the design and creation of several handmade books. The workshop also included a field trip to the Taller Arte Papel Oaxaca (Workshop for Art Paper) at the Center of the Arts at San Augustín Etla near the city of Oaxaca. Led by Samuel Rojas, the former director of paper-making at the Taller Arte Papel, student participants were introduced to the methods and materials of making paper for artists.

It should be noted that beyond teaching the methods and techniques of their respective workshops, both Professors White and Messer conveyed a sense of artistic vision and purpose that engaged the students and motivated learning. After two weeks of intensive work, the workshops concluded with displays of student work and the awarding of certificates of achievement.

Charles Cottle, UW-Whitewater Political Science Department, (and present author) served as the UWW coordinator and translator for the graphics workshop. Special thanks go to Erin Collins, Oaxaca resident and student participant, who gave freely of her time to serve as the translator for the artist book workshop. Erin’s generous service to the artist book workshop deserves special mention because while “real-time” interpretation alone can be taxing, to interpret and do one’s own work simultaneously is especially so.

These two workshops follow upon two presented in July, 2010 by Professors Michael Flanagan and Denis Dale, also of the UW-Whitewater Art Department. Those workshops were conducted in museum studies and digital imaging respectively. The four UW-Whitewater artists have been invited back to Oaxaca in the near future for another round of workshops at MuPO. Future projects with MuPo also include an exhibit on the UW-Whitewater campus featuring Oaxacan artists.

Gallery of Workshop Photos

Charles Cottle
February 5, 2011

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