Third Coast Prints: A selection of work from Really Big Prints 2021

Be drawn into the Godschalx Gallery to experience a series of large-scale relief prints from last summer’s Really Big Prints! Organized by Berel Lutsky (UW – Manitowoc), Ben Rinehart (Lawrence University), and Katie Ries (St. Norbert College), this biennial event in Manitowoc, Wisconsin allows printmakers to stretch the limits of printmaking and produce work up to 4 by 6 feet in size. By carving into large panels, made out of birch plywood or medium density fiberboard (MDF), only the uncarved area can be covered with ink. When paper is pressed to this inked surface, the resulting image is known as a relief print. Prints on this scale are too large to be pressed with a traditional printing press, so a City of Manitowoc steamroller steps up to the task.

A steamroller press in action. Underneath the steamroller is board and a thick foam mat, protecting the paper and the carved, inked block from shifting.

Woodblock prints on this intimidating scale can take hundreds of hours to carve and create, months before any steamrollers are involved. On the day of, each artist’s printing process depends on a whole team of “clean hands” and other assistants. After the event, artists wheat-paste one of their prints in an alley in Manitowoc, Wi on Washington Street, across from the courthouse. Though those prints have come down, each artist also contributes a print to the Really Big Prints Archive, to be shared in future exhibitions.

Wheatpasting Really Big Prints in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

The selection of prints from the 2021 event currently on display include work by a St. Norbert art professor, Katie Ries, as well as illustrator Rebecca Jabs, who exhibited in SNC’s Baer Gallery last year. These immersive paper-and ink worlds can initiate reflections on a sense of self and place, the role of stewardship, and the meaning of the natural world. Take an opportunity to surround yourself with these incredible prints before the exhibit closes on March 31!

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