Printmaking with Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School

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  • Elan Ferguson working with students at Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School on a printmaking project

  • Ink and brayers (rollers) on a palette for making monoprints

  • A student works to carve a negative with which to print

  • Rolling out the ink for making prints

  • Putting on finishing touches

  • Checking out the final product!

I had the pleasure of accompanying our Family Programs Coordinator and teaching artist Elan Ferguson during a visit to Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School in Harlem, one of the Museum's multi-session school partnerships. Elan worked with Ms. Siobhan Gordon’s 2nd grade classroom this fall. Elan’s curriculum supports early stages of visual literacy, highlights an artist of the month chosen by the school and introduces artists exhibited by or in the permanent collection of the Studio Museum. In addition, Elan conducts visual inquiries and uses creative writing and journaling activities to keep track of ideas and vocabulary.

Recently, Elan focused on TMALS's artist of the month, Harlem Renaissance painter Aaron Douglas, whose unique artistic style fused the artist's interests in modernism and African art. In addition, Elan introduced the work of photographer James Van Der Zee and 2012–13 artist in residence Jennifer Packer to discuss the Harlem Renaissance and different painting techniques.

During my class visit, I had a chance to observe students taking part in a visual inquiry   of Aaron Douglas’s painting, Creation (1927). They produced monoprints, a form of printmaking in which the images or lines you create can only be printed once, of their own design with teammates and recreate Creation on fabric. They got hands-on experience using diverse materials, such as foam, cardboard, printmaking ink, rollers, and brayers, as well as an introduction to new vocabulary and an important moment in African-American art history.

Erin K. Hylton is Education Coordinator at The Studio Museum in Harlem.