8:30 a.m.: Introduction to Printmaking, Studio Arts Building
Monday, November 3, 2014

Graduate student Ross Mazzupappa demonstrates printmaking techniques in an introductory class in Studio Arts Building. Video by Kirk Murray.

Classroom Pass is an Iowa Now project that sent teams of writers, photographers, and videographers to 15 classes on Wednesday, Oct. 22, to showcase the breadth and strength of the University of Iowa's academic offerings for undergraduates as well as its dynamic faculty and state-of-the-art facilities. See what other classes they visited.

Class: Introduction to Printmaking
Instructor: Ross Mazzupappa, graduate student in printmaking

I probably shouldn’t have worn my favorite blue dress shirt to Intro to Printmaking, a class with plenty of black ink around. Wear stuff you don’t care about—that’s the only possible explanation for one student wearing an Ohio State sweatshirt, right?

While I wasn’t thinking clearly on the wardrobe front, I am well aware of the University of Iowa’s excellence in this area. For nearly 50 years, the UI printmaking program has ranked among the best in the country. The program was established by world-renowned artist Mauricio Lasansky, perhaps best known for The Nazi Drawings, which examine the brutality of Nazi Germany.

Learn more about the university's outstanding printmaking department, and find out how the program's founder inspired one grateful graduate.

On this particular morning, graduate teaching assistant Ross Mazzupappa demonstrates techniques for about a dozen students, who will have the chance to do the work themselves the following week. Ink is applied to etched plates, paper lays in wait in a pool of water, ink is pressed into grooves, excess ink was scraped off, and the plate and paper become fast friends under the heavy wheel of the press.

It is an interesting juxtaposition: Mazzupappa carefully measures, marks, and labels his paper, and then proceeds to “gloop” and spread ink all around the metal foundation that holds the desired image.

In the end, though, the seemingly messy nature of the ink application gives way to a nice image (although Mazzupappa sees areas where the grooves will need adjustment). It makes me wish I had this sort of artistic skill, or that I could go back to my undergraduate days to take a class to develop that skill.