Story by Jessica Etemadi, photos by Matt Benoit
Cardboard boxes spill over with paper swatches every color of the rainbow. There are wooden cupboards all around the room, some splattered with paint, and gauzy ink-stained fabrics tucked below the counters.
Large yellow wheels hang from the ceiling, with long extension cords rolled up inside. The power outlets are suspended over almost every table, which are evenly spaced around the large open room.
It’s 10 a.m. Thursday morning in LDC 218A, a classroom unfamiliar to many students at Whatcom. Located on the second floor and accessed from a separate corridor, the art lab, formerly a science lab, became dedicated to art after Kulshan Hall was built, said Rob Beishline, Chair of the Visual and Performing Arts Department, in an e-mail.
The science department moved to the new building, and because the art department needed a special ventilation system for a new printmaking class, they moved into Laidlaw. The room now serves as a space where art students can work on their projects at almost any time of day.
Caryn Friedlander teaches Intaglio Printmaking and the Art of Color in 218A. Meeting twice a week for two and a half hours, Intaglio Printmaking is composed of about 20 students, many of whom are taking the class for the second time.
Both skill levels work together at the same time, the more experienced students often helping those who are still learning the basics.
“It’s opening my mind to new things,” said Sarah Goodin, 27, who enrolled in printmaking “just for fun.” Goodin, an English major, enjoyed the “mini history lesson” portion of the class, and has visited the library to look at other printmaking books.
Even though most classes are at least two hours long, students regularly stay after class to work on their art, especially if a project is due or the quarter’s end is near. However, one must be “well-trained to use the space,” said Caryn Friedlander.
Grace Ann Marshall, a local artist who regularly uses the space, is definitely well-trained. Marshall, who has a master’s degree in fine arts, is not enrolled in the class but pays a quarterly fee of $150 in order to utilize the room and its equipment.
The cost of printmaking is high, with presses running several thousand dollars and copper plates starting around $5. A 4-by-6-inch plate costs around $7, said Marshall.
She ordered a 9-by-12-inch plate online, which was about $20. Cans of ink range from $15 to $30. The school provides the ferric chloride necessary to etch the metal.
“It’s my true love,” said Marshall. Ideally, she spends between 12 and 16 hours a week working in LDC 218A. Marshall likes to arrive early in the morning, when she has the most energy to work creatively.
Elizabeth Young, 66, is taking the class to learn more about color for her quilting hobby. Her husband, who also enjoys art classes, encouraged her to sign up. Young is also a student at WWU, studying special education.
“It’s the kind of art I’ve always wanted to do but never knew how to do,” said Black.