“Wheatpaste is an incredible way to bring to life an otherwise blank canvas of brick and stone,” says Shawn Loseke, RMCAD adjunct professor. For his Summer B class of 2022, Darkrooms II, Loseke challenged himself to spearhead a project no RMCAD professor had attempted before, a wheatpaste gallery. The creation of wheatpaste typically requires two ingredients: water and flour. When combined, it creates a liquid adhesive that can adhere paper to common infrastructure materials such as bricks, concrete, and metal.
“Part of my inspiration for this project came from Mark Sink, founder of The Big Picture Colorado,” explains Loseke. “The organization uses wheatpaste to create installations in LoDo, and I thought it would be interesting to bring that art style to campus.” He brought up his vision to Robb Evans, Gallery Director, and Evans agreed it was a great idea. With classes starting soon and approvals out of the way, there was just one more issue Loseke had to work out. Many buildings at RMCAD are a part of the National Register of Historic Places, limiting where he could display an out-of-home art gallery. After further research, he learned that the facilities building was not on the Historic Register and the perfect place to showcase his students’ work.
On the first day of class, there was a sense of excitement in the room from students ready to learn more about the art of wheatpaste. Learning what paper to use, the perfect size to print at, and mastering proper installation technique were all on students’ minds. “We tried many different papers from different printers, and that proved to be problematic,” explains Loseke. On their test installation, after much trial and error, his class discovered that blueprint paper was the perfect thickness to adhere to the red bricks of the building.
Loseke’s Darkrooms II class worked tirelessly to create their art and prepare for the installation. On the day of installation Mark Sink, founder of The Big Picture Colorado, visited RMCAD and gave his tips and advice to students on how to successfully install their artwork. In total, seven wheatpaste pieces went up on the south wall of the facilities building. During last year’s Artist Alley, students were able to set up near the wheatpaste gallery further showing off the great work the RMCAD community has accomplished.
Today, he looks forward to expanding upon his original class project to something bigger, better, and even more creative. “My goal is to not have to pressure wash anything off the wall but to start adding to it,” says Loseke. As the original wheatpaste gallery inevitably fades, he hopes to overlap new artwork to start a new and exciting tradition on campus.