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Department of Art

NEA Discipline for Proposed Project: Visual Arts

Project Activities

Project Title: Transforming Printmaking through Chemical Innovation
Project Description:

To support Transforming Printmaking through Chemical Innovation, a collaborative project to transfer safer, sustainable technology from the electronics and biotech industries into fine art printmaking. A team of artists and scientists at Kansas State University will research and develop electrochemical etching processes and green bio-solvents, empowering artists to create prints in a safer and more effective manner. Results will be tested and utilized by a consortium of invited artists, master printers, and educators who will create a portfolio of prints for traveling exhibition and education of printmakers around the world.

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Major Project Activities:

Fine Art Printmaking is an exceptional combination of scientific process, technical craftsmanship, commercial technology, and artistic creativity. It serves as a critical link between the arts, sciences, and industry. Within the printmaking field, Kansas State University has distinguished itself as a pioneer in contemporary intaglio (etching) processes. Exploring technology transfer between printmaking and chemistry, our research team plans to research, develop, and utilize a new form of electrochemical etching to benefit artists and printmakers around the world. This research has the potential to make a global impact on the practice of printmaking, and serve as an example of groundbreaking interdisciplinary collaboration between science, technology, and fine art.

  1. Transfer Electrochemical Methods from the Electronics Industry to Electrochemical Etching and Electroplating Processes, and Develop and Test Green Bio-Solvents in Intaglio Printmaking. Through Collaboration between the labs of Professor Dr. Stefan Bossmann (Chemistry Dept.) and Associate Professor Jason Scuilla (Art Dept.), our team will develop, refine, and test electro-chemical etchants, resists, and green solvents. The novel methods will be rigorously tested in the classroom and professional studio to ensure that they are equal or superior to the conventionally used methods. In addition to improving traditional etchants, we're developing a new and unique form of printmaking that will allow artists to create relief imagery on the surface of the printing plate through electrochemical means. This technology combines aspects of relief, intaglio, and collagraphic print process and provides artists with an innovative method for creative expression. All processes will be developed with the end user in mind (Commercial Print Studio, Academic Printmaking Programs, Communal Art studios, and Individual Artists) and will be safe to operate and easy to set up with commonly available materials and chemistry.
  2. Spread Awareness of these New Technologies through a Traveling Nationally exhibited Portfolio of Electro-Chemically produced Prints and other forms of research dissemination. Many artists and educators are reluctant to adopt new technologies without first being convinced of the quality and creative potential of the medium. To satisfy this demand, a portfolio of exemplary fine art prints will be created using these methods by artist Jason Scuilla, his research assistants, and a consortium of creative experts. Selected artists, educators, and commercial master printers of national reputation will be invited to our labs to create prints and experiment with the process. A portfolio of these prints will be editioned and disseminated throughout the field. 3 editions will be framed and exhibited at Galleries, Museums, Universities, and Conferences. Additional editions will be offered to permanent Museum and Special Collections. The research will be further disseminated through field and trade publications, conference participation, and an online database of resources for our audience.
  3. Empower Artists and Print shops to Utilize this Technology in a Safe and Effective Manner. Most alternative printmaking processes that currently exist lack rigorous scientific testing, fail to disclose ingredients or are sold commercially at cost prohibitive prices to artists. Our goal is to provide artists of all socio-economic status the knowledge and resources to set up and utilize our process confidently in a safe and effective manner. One method of achieving this goal is to provide an online database and process manual of our research and results. This will provide examples of completed work and a clear explanation of the science behind the operation. Journals, trade publications, and conference demonstrations will also be explored as avenues to assist artists.