Students leave their mark

Published 10:12 pm Thursday, November 17, 2016

Art students and teachers from the Lakeland, King’s Fork ad Nansemond River high schools and Nansemond-Suffolk Academy took a break from their normal schedules and participated in a unique workshop hosted by the Suffolk Art League on Thursday.

The workshop, which took place at King’s Fork High, introduced works by French painter and sculptor Edgar Degas.

“I wanted to bring something different from him,” said Donna Drozda, a Virginia Museum of Fine Arts statewide educator.

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Drozda’s program focused on Degas’ mono printing techniques.

“He did that in a way no one had done before,” she said.

The day started off with a presentation on Degas’ works and the various types of mono printing techniques.

Students were introduced to three forms of mono printing — block, etched and direct draw.

The group etched Degas-inspired drawings into the small wooden blocks using fine carving instruments. Later, they applied color to the designs.

Students also utilized the direct draw technique by producing hind-rubbed black ink prints.

For the prints, first a black substance was smeared along a glass base and a thin sheet of paper was applied on top. Then, the students drew their designs on to the paper, being careful to not apply too much pressure. Afterward, the paper was peeled off to reveal the designs etched in the black substance.

“It’s spontaneous and fun,” Drozda said. “You’re always experimenting, you never know what you’re going to get.”

The students and teachers had high praise for the experience.

“It gives us more detail on how to use each tool and equipment,” said Sarah Rhodes, a King’s Fork student. “It’s nice to have a fresh person to come talk to you.”

“They’re so valuable,” NSA art teacher Kim Mason said. “We’re very, very grateful to the SAL. They absolutely love the experience. They are very eager to share what they’ve learned.”

Linda Bunch, executive director at the Suffolk Art League, said similar art programs have been hosted at high schools in the area since the late 1970s. The programs are hosted four times a year, with each high school hosting a session.

The program was organized by the VMFA and is supported, in part, by the Paul Mellon Endowment and the Jean Stafford Camp Memorial Fund. The Suffolk Art League also receives additional support through the Suffolk Foundation.

Within the last 25 years, the program has expanded to local middle and elementary schools.

The Suffolk Art League provides the workshops at the schools at no cost as a method of community outreach and dedication to the arts.

“We try to bring the arts back to the people,” said Beth Netts, education coordinator at the Suffolk Art League.