Visiting Artist Series Comes To Federal Hocking

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Students at Federal Hocking High School received a hands-on glimpse into the world of fine arts printmaking, compliments of the University of Rio Grande.

The School of Fine Arts at Rio Grande hosts a visiting artist series funded through the Imagine Arts Endowment which currently features Welsh printmaker Andrew Baldwin. Baldwin taught a four-day workshop at Federal Hocking High School earlier this month.

“It was really exciting,” said Ellen Hadley, art teacher at Federal Hocking. “They (the students) were just so excited about having an international artist here. Anytime you bring in an artist who gets a paycheck for their art, it’s always a really nice thing to show. It truly was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these students to get that feel.”

Baldwin worked with three separate art classes for a total of roughly 60 students. He provided a hands-on printmaking clinic on his innovative techniques and a new product that he invented.

“Printmaking is a process that obviously dates back a few hundred years,” Baldwin said. “I felt it necessary really that I start to research ways of achieving the same results without using the same chemicals and processes traditionally used.”

One small example is substituting soy sauce for ammonia in the degreasing stage of preparing the plates. Other changes include using vegetable oils and soap for cleanup, rather than petroleum solvents. These substances perform as well as the traditional hazardous solvents, but are safer to the user and the environment, and often less expensive.

“His work is really impressive, and he’s developed innovative techniques and materials that have made the entire printmaking process much safer,” said Benjy Davies, Rio Grande School of Fine Arts chair. “He works primarily in etching. His images are typically figurative and include a healthy dose of irony and humor, occasionally even poking fun at the state of fine arts in contemporary society.”

Baldwin’s workshop at Federal Hocking High was the result of a connection through Davies, an alumnus of Federal Hocking who served as the keynote speaker for their student chapter of the National Art Honor Society inductions last spring.

“Rio Grande does a lot of great things for the arts in this region,” Hadley said. “I really do appreciate their outreach; it is not a common thing as far as universities go. Any time I have a student interested in that field, I mention Rio Grande.”