Marilyn Propp’s proposal for her fall 2013 workshop, Art of Collaboration, was to discover how two individuals, with different perspectives and artistic visions, could come together to create something new, all within some fairly steep time and media constraints.
“The course I developed was loosely based on Leslie Dill’s I Had a Blueprint of History, a livre d’artiste which took over 5 years. It brought together Tom Sleigh, Paul Wong, Peter Kruty and Susan Gosin: papermaker, printer, poet, and visual artist, to truly collaborate on all aspects of production,” says Marilyn. “However, in our class, we had just three days!”
Students in the workshop were paired arbitrarily, rather than according to their ideas and skills, and used various techniques to work with the ideas, imagery, and text they brought to class the first night. “By necessity, this course required participants to simplify down to basics: throwing out preconceived notions, starting back at ground zero with one or two words, single images, wrangling out how to best use the paper’s translucent qualities to optimize their artistic choices.” Extending the spirit of collaboration was the leadership of Propp as the instructor, and Master Printer David Jones as the assisting visiting artist. Propp and Jones just happen to be the collaborating co-founders of Anchor Graphics, and were able to demonstrate to the students some real-life collaborative techniques through their studio process and interactions.
The first stop was Anchor Graphics, where participants were introduced to the gum transfer process and wood block prints, alternating the use of these processes to develop their books. Using provided translucent sheets of handmade paper, the student pairs were encouraged to print on both sides of the sheets, in order to extend their imagery. The last day of the workshop they met at CBPA to edition, create covers, and bind the books. Each student pair created 2 books.
“I was surprised to be able to produce a work that fit within my studio practice framework as well as that of my partner in the class, Folleh Tamba,” said second year Book and Paper MFA Angela Fegan. “I was also happy to produce a work that was of interest to my partner, and showcases his work in a format he had not yet explored. As I continue to produce book works, collaboration will continue to be part of my art practice in both production and content generation.”
Said Tamba about his experience in the class, “The biggest part of the collaboration was learning to compromise, and appreciate what the other can bring to one’s process. Working as a team, incorporating all our skills and ideas to produce our handmade books, was exhilarating.”