Adventures in Extreme Printmaking

This isn’t your average printmaking workshop. On April 21, 10 RMCAD students will join other local artists at the Mo’ Print Steamroller Print event where they will see their print designs come to fruition under the weight of a two-ton steamroller.

The Steamroller Print event will be one of the final events in the Month of Printmaking, a celebration of the art of making original prints to inspire, educate and promote awareness in the Denver Metro area and across the state of Colorado.

While the event will last for only one day, the process of preparing for it has been a much longer journey.

Prior to hand-carving 3’ by 8’ wood blocks to make these giant prints, students in Alicia McKim’s printmaking class first created a smaller scale version to test out their designs. After some fine-tuning, they began working on their blocks for the event, a task that takes about 40 hours of work, according to McKim.

“I’ve enjoyed carving at this scale,” said Art Education student Shelby Miles. “The most challenging thing is always the actual printing. It’s so meticulous. There’s a lot of problem-solving involved.”

Miles’ print is based on a photo of herself that she printed on a broken printer, resulting in a distorted image.

“I thought it would be interesting to manually carve something created by a [digital] printer,” she said. “I’ve also been wanting to do a more large-scale project.”

As for the pressure of only having one shot at getting her print right with the steamroller, Miles views the event as an experimental project. The students in McKim’s class will also make prints of their wood blocks by hand so they can experiment with elements such as color.

After the Steamroller Print event has concluded, a curated selection of prints will be displayed at 40 West Gallery, which will host an opening reception on May 4. In addition to the prints, the exhibition will also feature some of the original woodblocks used during the Steamroller Print event. The Steamroller Print exhibit will remain on display through May 26.

Want to Get Involved?

Any artist is welcome to register to participate in the Steamroller Print event. Requirements for woodblock size and preparation can be found on the Mo’ Print website. The sign-up period ends on Friday, April 20.