Monday, March 10, 2014

Using Art to Build Community

In collaboration with Wingtip Press and the Idaho Historical Museum, students in Jill Fitterer’s, fall semester ART 309-409 Studio in Printmaking course, worked on the Dia de los Muertos Steamroller Event. This event created an opportunity for students, artists, and community members to come together collaboratively though artistic expression. Through their work, students developed a deeper appreciation for community involvement and authentic learning experiences. Boise State University student, Kylee Koenig explained, “This was not just an educational experience that I could have obtained by sitting in a classroom, this Service Learning course created new relationships with community members and educational providers, opening future possibilities for me as a student and a local artist”.

As a part of their collaboration, students from ART 309-409 worked with students from area high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools, as well as artists from the community, to create a total of 55 printing blocks.  Blocks were carved with traditional hand tools and electric carving tools. The blocks were then rolled with paint and printed on large sheets of fabric, using a steamroller press. An ART 309-409 student shared, “One of the things I cease to realize from time to time is the way young view the world with such excitement. During the Steamroller event, everything from the blocks, to the ink, and even the prints, were the most brilliant inventions…for that moment - through the eyes of youth.”

The prints were carried in the Dia de los Muertos procession held on November 2nd, and exhibited around Boise to further showcase the community works. Students were challenged to connect their academic instruction to their experience, “In the process of performing my project responsibilities, creating my work, and participating in class discussions, I was challenged to think critically about the Mexican culture, and find ideas that I could identify with and apply to my own artwork.”

What did the ART 309-409 students learn from this experience? One of the ART 309-409 students explained, “We learned to work together to bring art to the community to make something greater from the sum of its parts”. Students shared their experience through the Service Learning Student Exhibition. Click on the following links to see two examples of ART 309-409 poster submissions

 - Jill K. Hettinger, Boise State University Service-Learning