Journeys: Artist Workshops with Erik Ruin


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Erik Ruin led the third series of artist workshops sharing his techniques for paper cutting and silk screening alongside his methods for developing visual vocabulary and multivocal narratives. The workshops focused around exploring how to visually express the story of journeys in the form of silk-screened accordion books. Accordion books are made from a single long piece of paper folded many times to create pages. This was the selected artistic medium to allow the the reader to look at either a portion or the whole of an image at one time, making them uniquely well-suited to tell the story of a journey. By the end of the workshops, collaborators and participants created their own accordion books based on their experiences and interpretations of the idea of journey and transition. These workshops took place across three Sundays in April/May 2018. Like the other artist workshops, the first two occurred at Prince of Peace Church in the northeast and the third at Second State Press.


Workshop 1:

In the first workshop, Erik demonstrated his methods for story development and drawing. He led a discussion on different ways that images can be used to depict narratives using a slideshow of his own work in addition to rare works and archives from Swarthmore Library and Erik’s personal collection.

Each collaborator and participant received a tool kit including a sketchbook, notebook, healing mat, exacto knives, and more to etch their narratives. Erik led the group in different ways they could layout their work, moving into a mapping exercise to begin planning what and how participants wanted to illustrate their narratives. Participants were each given 8’ x 24’ paper to fold into either 4 or 6 sections. It was critical to ensure that images were drawn in a way that connected each section together to prepare for creating positives that would be burned into screens.

Workshop 2:

Building on this in his second session, Erik shared his techniques for cutting paper templates that can be used to prepare and burn silkscreens for printing. Throughout this workshop collaborators and participants continued to draw and cut their narratives into paper, applying the techniques learned in practice.

Between the second and third workshops, Erik and Artistic Director Suzanne Seesman took the paper cuts to burn silk screens at Second State Press that would be used in the final workshop.

Workshop 3:

Erik demonstrated how to make prints using a prepared screen at his third and final workshop at Second State Press. The workshop was joined by another commissioned book artist, Islam Aly, who provided additional support and guidance. Collaborators and participants worked together to print and edition each person’s individual accordion book. They also played with mixing paint to make colors that would reflect another aspect of the journeys they were sharing. Each maker’s book played with the template of the accordion form and explored literal and symbolic ideas about journey in unique ways.

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