Finding a Cause
The next step is to help students realize what they are passionate about.
What upsets them the most about the
world? What changes are needed? In
summary, they need to find a cause.
Once this is established, the art-making begins.
of the Print
The print has a long-standing tradition of carrying a politi- cal message. This can be seen in the works of artists
from the German Expressionists,
like Käthe Kollwitz
and Emil Nolde, to
like José Posada and
Whether it was during
the Mexican Revolution of 1910, the War in Iraq, or the
2008 presidential election, prints pop
up everywhere throughout history.
Prints can remind us of things we
Putting It on the Block
are uncomfortable with or simply give
us hope. Remember all those Obama
posters? “Change You Can Believe
In,” or “Yes We Can.” Who can deny
their power or influ-
First, I will assume you know how
to print a one-color linocut or wood-block. I like my students to use a soft-cut block that can be found in any art
store. I like it because it seems easier
to carve than wood or linoleum.
Working with this surface cuts down
on accidents and increases safety,
considering we will be using carving
Normally, I have students do several sketches on paper. Once a design
is finalized, I have students color
the backside of their drawings with
charcoal or conté crayon (coloring
with pressure to ensure a rich covering). Then students turn the paper
over, tape it on the block, and trace
the image with a pen or pencil. The
image is now visible on the block and
is ready to be cut. Remember, any
words need to be written and traced
backwards. Another approach to the
image is to just freehand draw it on
the block with a pencil and then trace
it with a fine-tip permanent marker.
Either way, students hand-print with
water-based ink on drawing paper.
Students usually respond with surprising images that explore the power
of the print. Hopefully, they will view
printmaking as a method of participating proactively in our culture.
Jeff Tam is a visual arts teacher at St.
Andrew’s Priory School in Honolulu,
The first thing I do
is to show students
examples of work
from my collection of prints, bumper
stickers, and political posters. While
talking about the art, I share a little
about print history and its roots with
Prints can remind
us of things we are
uncomfortable with or
simply give us hope.
Students evaluate and defend the
validity of sources for content and
the manner in which subject matter,
symbols, and images are used in the
students’ works and in significant
works by others.