This spring the Maryhill Museum of Art invited me to work on a large-scale community art project titled The Exquisite Gorge. The Maryhill Museum’s vision was grand – 11 artists from across the region were commissioned to carve 11 giant (4’ x 6’) woodblocks that depict the entirety of the Columbia River. Each artist was assigned a specific section of the river and worked with community partners to develop their work: I was assigned the section from Hat Rock State Park (near the Twin Sisters) to where the Columbia and Snake River meet and asked one of my former art students, Sarah Finger, to take the lead on designing and carving our section. Our assigned region is more commonly known as Wallula Gap, a region layered with complex histories, site usage, and environmental concerns. As a Whitman alum and geology major with a minor in art, Sarah did site visits and research in the region to create her carving. Once print day arrived, over a dozen community partners including art professors, students, curators, art center directors, librarians, and members of the Confederated Tribes worked alongside community members and volunteers to print all of the blocks. The resulting print records 11 unique views of the Columbia River Gorge on a 66’ roll of paper, the longest steamroller print on record in the world.
Over the course of two weeks, over 80 first graders from Edison Elementary School came to Whitman College to make prints in our studio at the Fouts Center for the Visual Arts. The first graders were guided by a team of Whitman College students from Club Latinx and the First Generation and Working Class Student Clubs.
The Dia De Los Muertos Steamroller Print Project brings together artists, students, and the community for a collaborative art event.
More than 1,500 people in the Walla Walla region attend this free event each fall, which brings together artists, musicians, dancers, and community members. This festival came about because of the vision and collaboration of organizations across the city, including Shakespeare Walla Walla, Art Walla, Carnegie Picture Lab and Whitman College Art Department.
As part of the festival my Whitman art students collaboratively print giant woodcuts using a steamroller. For over a month before the festival, Beginning Printmaking students hand-carve their designs on 4-by-4-foot and 4-by-8-foot sheets of medium density fiberboard. The students also help teach community members how to carve their own mini-relief blocks, which could be printed on t-shirts using the steamroller. The resounding success of the inaugural Dia de los Muertos was due to the enthusiasm and support of local organizations, schools and the community.
Iowa State Public Art Commission
Coordinated through Project Art at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
For several months I worked as the artist-in-residence at the University of Iowa Hospital. During that time I painted with patients, listened to their stories, and incorporated their art and poetry into a site-specific installation for the Hospital's permanent collection. The work was created with patients and family members at the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Clinic, and the piece was developed from February - September 2009.
Articles about the Project
Arts Outreach Initiatives: Art as a Bridge between People by Riki Saltzman, Accessibility Coordinator, Iowa Arts Council
Art Speak from the University of Iowa Hospitals