Print & Book Arts at Foothill College

About Foothill Printmakers

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Behind the Scenes: The Tortilla Curtain Project

In January 2008, the Foothill Printmakers began active production of The Tortilla Curtain Project, influenced by the T.C. Boyle's book, The Tortilla Curtain. The book was selected as part of the Foothill College "One Book, One College, One Community Initiative," which encourages students, faculty, staff and community members to read the same book and participate in discussions and events related to the work.

In the spirit of this initiative, more than eighty collaborative mixed-media prints have been produced in Studio 1801 at Foothill College between January 8 and March 21, 2008. Of these, twenty-two prints were framed for The Tortilla Curtain Project's inaugural exhibition at the Krause Center for Innovation at Foothill College. All prints will be on exhibit throughout the campus April 7 - May 15, 2008. An exhibition catalog is available.

The Tortilla Curtain Project began during Fall Quarter 2007 when the Foothill Printmakers decided they would like to engage in a collaborative printmaking project that further explored the themes from Boyle's Tortilla Curtain. Working in an "open studio" model, the printmakers usually work on independent projects and do not come together regularly as a group, so the proposal and preliminary discussion on the project took place in the community's Yahoo! group.

With the decision to participate, the printmakers who had not yet read the book started reading, and project planning meetings were scheduled. At the first planning meeting, project goals and parameters were established and collaborative options were discussed. At the second meeting, a discussion and brainstorming session generated ideas and lists related to theme, images and associations. The process not only produced a spectrum of ideas for making images, but it also brought the group together around a larger, unified vision. The planning phase ended with the agreement to work in a round-robin, iterative fashion, where each artist would select and contribute to a print, then set it aside for future additions by other artists.

Fully mobilized and energized, the community of artists and printers set off to work. In a kickoff studio session, many of the artists joined together to start laying the foundations for the prints, tearing 100 sheets of Rives BFK printmaking paper to size, then using screenprinting and monoprinting to establish color, texture and mood. Flat files were set aside to store paper and work in progress; drawers were labeled 1. Paper; 2. Undone; 3. Done; and 4. Parts/Make Ready.

Throughout Foothill's Winter Quarter, regularly-scheduled smaller open studio sessions invited the community to join together to continue working on the prints. Artists would begin working on either a blank sheet of paper or pull a print from the undone drawer. After working on a piece, it would be returned to the undone drawer or, if three artists determined the print was finished, it could go into the "Done" drawer. It was also required that a minimum of three artists work on each print.
In mid-March, about two months after beginning active art production, we photographed prints for the catalog and selected the prints for the exhibition.

looking at the print in the studioprints on the tablegroup discuss the printsperson smiling



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