North Texas Daily

Artists print on limestone, copper at Annex

Artists print on limestone, copper at Annex

Artists print on limestone, copper at Annex
September 25
00:10 2014

Rhiannon Saegert / Senior Staff Writer

Unknown to everyone except art students, inside the unassuming Oak Street Hall Annex building situated across the street from the U Centre’s parking lot is the Print Research Institute of North Texas, or PRINT, UNT’s printing lab where visiting and local artists collaborate with students to create works of art.

“Pretty much everything you see around you is from previous collaborations with artists,” Director Lari Gibbons said about the displays in the building. “I switch it out fairly often. The work that’s framed is from collaborations that have already been finished.”

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The Oak Street Hall Annex building is home to the Print Research Institute of North Texas. PRINT is a fine art press affiliated with the College of Visual Arts and Design.

Gibbons said the institute doesn’t charge students fees, but sells prints from the collaborations to sustain itself.

“Once we sell a work of art, we turn right back around and buy more supplies for the next collaboration,” Gibbons said.

The PRINT Institute has specialized printing equipment including letterpresses, book presses, vacuum presses and other screen printing materials and lithography presses, which involve drawing images on limestone tablets before imprinting those images onto paper.

Most of the equipment was donated by The Peregrine Press, including a solid steel American French tool press, one of the heaviest presses on the market.

Assistant to the Director Laura Drapac said the institute relies heavily on student interns and assistants. Printing students help with everyday tasks as well as the printing of materials for editions and during collaborative periods with visiting artists. Interns get class credit, while part-time employees, usually grad students, get paid a stipend. 

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Stacks of laser cut pieces of wood inside the Oak St. Hall Annex

Some machines are so old that replacement parts aren’t even made anymore. In these cases, the institute has to get creative with its solutions.

In one extreme case, the institute had a piece of aircraft aluminum designed to replace the problematic part of a letterpress.

“We had to actually get it made on campus through UNT engineering and machining,” Drapac said. “So we really have some interesting elements of research going on – not only in the fine arts aspect, but just in the research of continuing our own art form.”

In addition to working with visiting artists, the institute collaborates with other art departments to bring artists to the campus to give lectures and hold workshops.

Kiki Smith, the contemporary artist who worked with students last year, still has work being finished by the students in PRINT.

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Assistant to the Director of P.R.I.N.T. Laura Drapac describes how a silk screening vacuum table works at the Oak St. Hall Annex Monday afternoon.

Drapac said it’s common for visiting artists to create an image, begin the printing process alongside the students, then leave while the rest of the prints are completed according to their instructions.

Printmaking intern Eileen Fritz is still working on Smith’s project using a process called photo intaglio, which involves etching images into recyclable copper plates with ferric acid.

She said the process begins with trial and error and tons of ink.

“That’s what they worked on during the summer was getting all the images done, and you have to do a lot of proofs and do it quite a few times to even get it a decent one at all,” Fritz said. “They made a whole edition of these. There’s, like, 18, and then we’ve got a set of proofs.”

She said one proof will go to the master printer, one will go to the artist, and one will stay with UNT. Some remain on display in the PRINT workshop. 

Featured Image: Metal print blocks that are used in the letterpress printing process. The Print Research Institute of North Texas is located in the Oak St. Hall Annex building. Photos by Harris Buchanan – Staff Photographer

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