Associate Professor Jon Swindler of the University of Georgia recently spent a week working with UT School of Art printmaking faculty and students as part of a program promoting educational collaboration across Southeastern Conference schools.
Swindler, a faculty member in printmaking and book arts, is one of more than 100 faculty members from the 14 conference universities participating in this year’s SEC Faculty Travel program. He was in Knoxville February 4–8.
Invited to UT by Beauvais Lyons, Chancellor’s Professor in the School of Art, Swindler spent time lecturing and working hands-on with both graduate and undergraduate students. During his studio time, he taught students about pressure printing, a technique in which a backing sheet is placed behind a press sheet and run over an inked surface, subjecting the ink to varying degrees of pressure.
“Jon’s approach is very different from mine, and that’s exciting,” Lyons said. “That gives us the chance to create a generous space that allows for collaboration and builds connection with our students.”
Baxter Stults, a third-year graduate printmaking student from Alabama, spent time in the studio experiencing Swindler’s approach, which includes layering nontraditional materials such as cardboard and netting into the work.
“While I’ve done some layering myself, I haven’t gone to the same lengths that he’s had or considered using digital processes in combination with more analog print processes,” Stults said. “Seeing someone explore different techniques in a way I hadn’t considered—that is eye-opening.”
To demonstrate his pressure printing approach, Swindler brought enough material from his studio in Georgia to have the students work on 40 prints.
Throughout the week, Swindler invited students to work alongside him. The finished prints were hung from the walls of the School of Art printmaking studio.
“This program has been fabulous,” Swindler said. “It’s a great way for our institutions to share, and this medium is an excellent conduit because it is so reliant on a communal culture.”
UT’s printmaking program is currently ranked second in the United States by US News and World Report. Georgia’s program is ranked seventh.
“The work that comes out of this program is some of the best,” Swindler said. “There’s a lot to admire and it’s nice to come here and be surrounded by it.”
For Lyons, being involved with one of the country’s top programs means inviting experts like Swindler to supplement the teaching provided by UT’s faculty.
“One of the commitments we make as educators is to not be the sole repository of all knowledge for our students,” Lyons said. “This kind of workshop with Jon is the chance to work directly at the elbow of a respected colleague who’s in our studio making creative decisions at the press. It makes for a rich educational experience.”
In addition to Swindler’s visit, the School of Art has a longstanding relationship with Eugeniusz Geppert Academy of Art and Design in Wroclaw, Poland, with opportunities for printmaking students to travel to Poland in the spring. UT hosts Polish students in the fall. That program will expand this year to include faculty exchanges.
UT will host the SEC Faculty Academic Leadership Development program February 20–22.
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