Stony Brook Southampton’s new Almost Beachfront Digital Print Studio presented an exhibition of student work created by young artists from Sag Harbor’s Pierson Middle-High School on Saturday. The diverse collection of prints, including drawn, painted and photographic imagery on a variety of papers and fabric, was the result of a three-day intensive printmaking workshop at the Almost Beachfront Studio.
“They were locked in the studio,” said Scott Sandell, director of the new MFA in visual arts program at Stony Brook Southampton. “All they could do was work on their prints,” he said, explaining that the students worked from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for three consecutive days. “They never lost focus,” Sandell added, remarking on the students’ work ethic and their fearless experimentation.
Also led by Pierson art teacher Peter Solow and guest artist Casey Anderson, the program was funded by the high school’s Donald Reutershan Educational Trust, which gives Pierson’s art program money for special projects and programs, as well as a $10,000 scholarship for one exceptional student artist each year.
“This was terrific,” Solow said, commenting on the Sag Harbor School District’s commitment to allow the students three days to make art in lieu of their regularly scheduled classes. He noted that working with professional artists in this atmosphere is key to student development. “The kids flourished,” Solow said.
This was clearly evident upon entering the show, which was up for just one night at Stony Brook’s Avram Gallery. Three large prints by Emma Buckner dominated the small room from their spot on the back wall. Buckner‘s prints layer ethereal self-portraits (or what appear to be self-portraits) with aquatic textures, such as fish, a sea turtle and the water itself. A similarly large and obscured photographic piece by Julie Sava hung to the left and mades good use of its grainy texture and mysterious light.
Other students created two-sided, fold-up accordion-style books that when unfolded extend as long as six feet across the wall. Among them, Hallie Ulrich’s lengthy black and white print book features manipulated images of tree branches on six panels and Sydney Mitchell’s print book comprises three two-sided panels with brightly colored and saturated photographs of Venice, Italy. Mitchell’s piece is an excellent demonstration of the digital print studio’s high-resolution and color capability.
Will Broich is one of just two students who did not use photography in their prints. His primitive devil is a hand drawn picture made into a print. It was presented in its original black line form on one side, while a hand-painted version hung to its right.
Other participating students included Ellison Ulrich, Nell Dobbs, Katherine Coronado, Miranda Hirsch, Joy Tagliasacchi and Chance Sevigny.
The Young Artists Workshop had excellent results, according to Sandell, who envisions Almost Beachfront as “a regional center for contemporary printmaking.” He plans to choose “outstanding or applicable” artists to come in and create original prints for publication through the studio and Stony Brook. Sandell chose playwright Joe Pintauro for the first project and it’s become a massive and exciting undertaking.
“It’s thrilling,” Pintauro said of the project, which he described as a narrative photo essay of St. Marks Square in Venice, “in the 14th century style.” The playwright said he’s spent many hours working in the studio with Sandell, and the final product will be a “very expensive” table book, with black and white and color pictures, that unfolds to be 8-9 feet long. “I’ve been photographing Venice since 1964,” Pintauro said, noting that the prints would be very tenderly produced. “I’m very, very into it and attached to it.”
Sandell and Pintauro are still working on the project, choosing fine papers and finalizing details such as the size of the edition, but it’s clearly a labor of love for both of them.
Solow said renowned artist Perico Pastor would be the next professional visiting Pierson’s art program thanks to the Reutershan Trust. He is teaching students the art of painting with Sumi ink over the week of December 10-15.