This semester, Dr. Rachel Simmons, a professor in the Art and Art History Department, has teamed up with various students to dive into the medium of printmaking through independent studies. Independent studies are semester-long, student-led research courses based on student-selected topics.
Independent studies allow students to flourish beyond the world of textbooks and essays and enhance their creative abilities. This is essential for anyone who wants to gain experience and cultivate practical skills, useful beyond the walls of an educational institution. These studies entail a lot of research and require dedication, but the results are worthwhile.
Life without art would be very mundane; therefore, Rollins College makes sure to incorporate all fields in the educational opportunities available each semester, including independent studies. This semester, Professor Simmons and company have focused their independent study on printmaking. Simmons felt it important to preface her comments by defining printmaking for the layperson. She stated that printmaking is “creating images on a plate, screen, or even wood and pulling impressions from it through ink or rollers.” She continued, “just like film in photography or making a cast for a sculpture, printmaking allows for developing or duplicating an image.” Before computers, this was the main method of printing and it paved the way for newspapers, magazines, and books to be published in large numbers.
Professor Simmons had a lot to say about the independent studies she was supervising. She stated, “it is a good way to explore a body of work and it allows the student to have an idea and stick with it. It is driven solely by the student, so it is very unique as the student is the only one who produced it. It is also very different from the printmaking class because it allows the students to dive deeper into an area of interest.” She then mentioned four students who are part of the independent study and their different approaches and ideas.
One student was studying abroad in Ireland and creating a visual journal of her travels. This allowed her to build a body of work that covered a specific theme. Another student is screen printing in order to explore ethical conflicts in the manufacturing of makeup that is not cruelty-free. Yet another student is focusing her screen-printing on environmental issues that matter to her. She is also producing a portfolio and displaying her art on her website.
Kayla Powers ‘17 was able to give us more information on her specific screen-printing independent study. She stated, “my goal with this independent study was to understand screen-printing and correlate it with things that matter to me, such as political science issues.” She continued, “My objective is to screen print activist poster art for marginalized groups such as Muslim Americans, refugees, and the LGBT society. I wanted the subject matter to be accessible to everyone and I think posters allow for a much greater audience than other means.”
Students are taking different approaches with their screen-printing studies, but a common motif is noticeable among them—that is, their passion for the subject and their ability to focus on their area of interest for a long time rather than just a week or two. These studies are just a single example of how Rollins students are making the best of their college experience. Independent studies are available to all students no matter what subject so long as there is a faculty member who can advise you.
Hopefully, this feature on screen printing will help students understand just one of the many academic opportunities available at Rollins. Participating in an independent study program is an incredibly personalized way to advance in one’s own knowledge.
These independent studies can be a great addition to any student resume and enhance students’ overall experience with research and development of an idea. It proves that, with guidance and months of hands-on experience, students are able to execute beautiful things and create pieces that are completely unique to them. Artistic finesse is a wonderful skill to have, and it can pay off in the long run for students to have gone through such individualized lessons.