2018 UAM Summer Internship: Printmaking – Making an Imprint

UAM Summer Intern, Martin, shares his experience with working on a printmaking exhibition and event planning for the Annual UAlberta Museums Celebration event.

Martin Bierens - 28 May 2018

My first few weeks here at the University of Alberta Museums have been a whirlwind. The first few weeks of May has been a very busy time here at the Museums. On May 8th the annual Museums Celebration event took place and then just two days later was the opening of the Light/Matter: Art at the Intersection of Photography and Printmaking exhibition on May 10th.

The Museums Celebration is an annual event that is hosted by the University of Alberta Museums and Collection Services (MACS) team, where we honour and celebrate the contributions of those in our museum community and all the work that they do to support the U of A Museums. At the event we honoured two Volunteer of the Year winners, as well as long time University of Alberta Art Collection (UAAC) curator, the late Jim Corrigan, who was inducted into the Curator Hall of Fame. This event gave me the opportunity to see another side of the museums world. One that is not related to artifacts, or specimens but the people who make the day to day work possible. Some of my jobs were helping to assemble gift bags of loose-leaf tea, set up seating and catering, including the delicious gelato, and pounding horseshoe spikes into the ground. Events like this one show how much the MACS team values those who work with and for them, which was very comforting news to a nervous intern!

The other project that I have been involved with recently was the preparation of the Light/Matter exhibition. This gave me the opportunity to help out with something that I had never done before, the preparation of an art exhibit. This particular exhibit is centred on the art of printmaking. Something which I had never been exposed to before. What surprised me was the huge variety of printmaking techniques, and styles, and the intricacies involved in each. I learned that printmaking is much more than simply stamping a piece of paper onto a stencil, it involves intense work and expertise. The scope of which blew me away.

One surprise for me was the amount of math that was required to ensure that every print was exactly straight and in the perfect position. Hanging art for display, it turns out, is a very precise procedure. At times measuring to the sixteenth of an inch to make sure everything was exactly perfect! This precision and care is something that seems obvious to me now that I have seen the process, but as a museum visitor it is something I had simply never thought of before. Helping out with exhibit preparation and planning was one of my main goals for this summer, so my first few weeks have been very productive! Next step is just helping to plan an exhibit, and rumour has it that that may be possible by the end of the summer!

Light/Matter will be running from May 11 – June 2 Tuesday to Friday 10am – 5pm at the University of Alberta Museums – Gallery A in the TELUS Centre, and Tuesday to Saturday 10 am – 5 pm at FAB Gallery in the Fine Arts Building. Featured in the exhibit are works of art by artists who have pieces in the Print Study Centre of the UAAC. Coming up, I will be a Gallery Docent these next few weeks in Gallery A. Another new experience! I have a feeling there will be a lot of those over the course of the summer! And I am excited to be able to catalogue and share them through this blog.