Rise | Marquetta Johnson

During the summer of 2012, the High Museum of Art, Atlanta hosted an exhibition of Hale Woodruff’s Murals from Talladega College, selected paintings, and prints. The Summer Camp Workshops at the Museum presented an art experience inspired by the linoleum block prints of Mr. Woodruff that were included in the exhibition.

Hale Aspacio Woodruff (American, 1900–1980), The Mutiny on the Amistad, 1939, oil on canvas, 72 x 120 inches. Collection of Talladega College, Talladega, Alabama.© Talladega College. Photo: Peter Harholdt.

The centerpiece of the exhibition was the mural series created by Hale Woodruff for Talladega College in Alabama. The theme of first three murals was the Amistad mutiny and the theme of the second three was the founding of Talladega College.

During this time, I had the opportunity to develop and present hand printing workshops to summer camp groups that visited the Museum.

Photo Credit: Andre Keichian

When the tours were finished, the students joined me in the studio. We discussed what they saw in the gallery. Judging from the comments they made during our time together, they were inspired by the strong messages of freedom and self-determination that Mr. Woodruff’s artwork spoke to.  Then, after a brief introduction to the printing process, students sketched their ideas into the easy cut.

Once the students sketched their designs onto the easy cut, they began the process of carefully carving out their designs with linoleum carving tools.

Students were inspired by the realistic images of the murals, however they were also inspired by the lines and forms Mr. Woodruff included in his compositions.

After the carving, students began the printing process by rolling ink onto their printing stamp.

After the ink was rolled onto the Easy Cut, students carefully placed them onto the fabric.

Then, using brayers, students applied the inked design to their fabric and gently lifted up the completed print.

The joy of creative expression was apparent in the smiles of the students as they completed their compositions.

The students created many beautiful works of art, full of imagery and inspiration from the masterful artwork of Hale Woodruff.  Students all expressed their appreciation for the experience and I felt fortunate to be a part of such a powerful moment. As the workshops  came to a close, the sense of accomplishment in my students made it apparent to me that art making had brought a positive energy into the classroom that was clearly a catalyst for learning and self-discovery.

Marquetta Johnson is a Teaching Artist with over 20 years of teaching experience and professional development in the areas of arts integration, arts infusion and inclusive classrooms. She is a textile artist and quilter with work in private and corporate collections that have been featured on HGTV and DYI Home Improvement Television. Marquetta is also a published author having written the book Hand Dyed Quilts. She has affiliations with VSA International, The Names Project−The Aids Memorial Quilt Foundation, The Atlanta Partnership for the Arts in Learning and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia.

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