By the time I was preparing for my MFA show at Michigan State University, I was pretty comfortable with the collagraph print-making process. I had created dozens of printing plates, and made several collagraph prints from each one.
My degree was in ceramics, and my show would be centered around a series of nine large ceramic sculptures. I felt it was important to show some of my original prints, too, as that was an integral part of my creative growth. My advisors suggested several finished pieces that would be representative of my work. I decided to, instead, create a series of new plates for a series of large prints that would better compliment my ceramic work.
It was a huge endeavor to take on in the last few months at university. The plates were built up on 24″ x 32″ masonite boards, which was just about as large as the press would handle. Each finished print was inked and put through the press at least three times before it was done, with drying time between each run. Unlike previous collagraphs I had made, these were hand-colored with watercolor paints, too. The series of six collagraghs took about two hundred hours to complete.
Why would I take on such an enormous project when I was busy with a thousand other necessary preparations leading up to the show, and graduation? My collagraphs had – to that point – been largely geometric patterns. Each were individual images, in various sizes depending on what I managed to find to serve as a plate.
As a backdrop for my ceramic sculpture, I wanted a series of larger images to better set of the three-dimensional work. I wanted more muted colors, and softer lines. This image – titled “Critical Density” – is one of the six that I hung for the show that year.