My classmate from the MI-lab course in Japan, Tina Fish Lutz, told me about this conference and I took advantage of its being in nearby Milwaukee to attend for a day this year. The venue was the campus of the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Campus, with exhibitions at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design and galleries in town.
There were a few things that I feel would be interesting to people who do Moku Hanga.
1. Member’s Portfolio Exchange. This exchange is not just for woodcuts but for any kind of print, but there were lots of woodcuts represented. You hand in 13 prints and get back 10 random prints. The participation was enormous. Below is a photo of the wall where the prints are displayed as they come in. There’s one wall for students and one for professionals. This is the student’s wall, and my print is the second from the bottom on the left. The whole wall was 3X this size.
2. Thematic Print Exchanges. There were about a dozen of these. They work like this: an organizer proposes a theme and suggested participants to the SGC and gets approval. Then the organizer gets together a bunch of printmakers and specifies the theme, the size, etc. Then everyone submits a number of prints to cover the participants and three for the organizations that sponsor (SGC and hosts). Then they prints (electronic images probably) are sent to the person in charge at the SGC for jurying and those that are ‘in’ are shown at the thematic print exchange. This seems like a very good way to build a student’s experience.
3.The Product Fair. This was particularly interesting for me because I learned that there are many North American sources of washi that I didn’t know about. For example, there is
which is run by Lauren Perlman from Tokyo but the distribution is done from the US by a co-worker of hers who is a Japanese national who is a permanent US resident!
I also learned that Daniel Smith sells Awagami paper here and that they have a 20% discount going on until April 20, code WFAIRE20. Mc Clain’s, Hiromi and the Japanese Paper Place were also represented, and it was a pleasure to meet the people I have until now only known over the phone.
4. Justseeds. This is a printer maker’s cooperative that advocates for social causes, and their cause for this year is “Labor”. They set up papermaking and printmaking on-site and produced posters and paper with themes intended to benefit working people. I made a youtube video of them doing the setup and an interview with their Oakland, CA member, Favianna Rodriguez:
5. Exhibitions around town. The downtown area of Milwaukee has undergone an arts revival and the Marshall building there has galleries that work with print. I went to one of them that displayed the work of Rina Yoon, who applies rolled up washi paper to a print for 3 D effects, a Korean tradition, and I was quite taken by it.,
6. A new product for making moku hanga on cloth. Speedball has a new ink that doesn’t require heating to set and is able to be washed for relief printing onto cloth. This was good to see because I recently learned that until 1942, when parachute nylon began to fall from the skies over France, Hermes scarves were all printed with wood block printing! So, I was glad to see that there seems to be an ink that is made for doing this conveniently. There was a demonstration of how to do this for multi-color printing and the key ‘ingredient’ is a frame used to stretch the cloth over that is made just larger than the blocks that contain the relief images to be printed. The photo below shows one of them.
I have organized (scientific) meetings myself and I appreciate how much it takes to make a meeting successful. The organizers of this meeting did a great job. They created an atmosphere that was welcoming and a great promoter of print. I really felt at home and welcomed, even though I’m a newcomer to printing. I got to meet Kari Garon (Themed Portfolio Chair), Jessica Meuninck-Ganger (Conference Co-Chair) and Yoko Hattori (Steering Committee member), and they were all very welcoming and helpful to me, a newcomer to the organization.
Thanks a million UWM!