Georgia College students make silkscreen prints with Jones County youth

Georgia College students make silkscreen prints with Jones County youth

S tudents in Matt Forrest’s print making class enjoyed the autumn sunshine recently, making screen prints of ravens and blackout poetry with youth at Jones County Public Library.

Matt Forrest, associate professor of art.
Matt Forrest, associate professor of art.
The community outreach was part of a national celebration, TeenTober, through the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). Activities are hosted at libraries in October to promote services like WiFi availability and tutoring. The event encourages youth to read, while giving them an opportunity to adopt new skills.

“The idea was to highlight the library in a rural community and the notion that teens should be in the library,” said Forrest, associate professor of art. “For many, carving out a time to read is becoming less of a priority due to competing technologies. We wanted to create something to show teenagers there are resources available for them.”

New Jones County Public Library branch manager Julie King said she was thrilled with the project.

“It takes a lot to intrigue teens and get them excited about things,” she said, “and this is such a completely different activity from anything I’ve ever seen.”

Raven blackout poem.
Raven blackout poem.
Participants created one- and two-colored screen prints. One project involved blackout poetry––where the bulk of text on a page is blacked out with ink, revealing only a few select words. Remaining words comprise an original poem or prose. A poem by Edgar Allen Poe was used, along with a page from the teen fiction novel, Robot Visions, by Isaac Asmiov.

Prior to TeenTober, Georgia College students created computer images of a raven and leafy border. These were printed on acetate film, then coated in a photographic emulsion and exposed to produce stencils.

Students demonstrated silkscreen pulling at the library. The method involves scraping a wooden paddle across a stenciled, ink-filled screen. Thermographic toner interacted with the warmth of artists’ hands, turning black to pink or black to blue.

Senior Art Studio Major Mary Douberly makes a screen print with a young participant at Jones County Public Library.
Senior Art Studio Major Mary Douberly makes a screen print with a young participant at Jones County Public Library.

“Print making is all art in one process. It involves drawing, mark making, photography and digital art. This process, for example, uses both a photographic process as well as a digital process,” said Mary Douberly, a senior studio art major from Savannah.

I was really excited for this, because anything connected with art is fun. Spreading art is always a good thing in my opinion.
– Mary Douberly

Douberly wants to work with children after graduation. She said the Jones County community event was “an amazing opportunity” for her to practice her teaching skills.

This is why Forrest connects students with community events. It allows them to take knowledge from the classroom and share it with others. Students pick up valuable communication and leadership skills, while experiencing what it’s like to organize a public, nonprofit event.

Junior art studio major Kim Cunningham of Augusta looked forward to working with youth. Blackout poetry is trending on social media, she said. Because screen printing has multiple steps, she thought it was the perfect challenge for teens.

“I really do like working with children,” Cunningham said. “Art’s always been a very good method of expression, especially for young people. It can teach them skills that carry over into other fields. I think exposure to that at a young age is a good thing.”

Kimberly Tran, a junior art major from Milledgeville, felt the community outreach activity was a good way for her to learn, as well.

“It might be a little challenging for teens, because there are a lot of steps you have to keep in mind,” Tran said. “By reviewing the steps over and over again with them, though, it helps me cement the process in my mind too.”

Senior practicum student Kelsey Thomas pulling a screen.
Senior practicum student Kelsey Thomas pulling a screen.