TAMU-CC art students have pieces included in Venice exhibit


Courtesy of Eric Cuevas/TAMU-CC ISLANDER – Spectators view the assembled mosaic of the ImMigration Project, organized by the Los Angeles Printmaking Society and including pieces from TAMU-CC students. The project was most recently displayed in the Scuola Internazionale di Grafica gallery in Venice, Italy, where it ran from Oct. 3 to Oct 30.

Pieces created by TAMU-CC art students recently made their way overseas when the ImMigration Project, an initiative by the Los Angeles Printmaking Society (LAPS), opened up an exhibit at the Scuola Internazionale di Grafica in Venice, Italy.

The pieces were from students enrolled in the Print 1 and Advance Printmaking classes in the Spring 2019 semester, including one from course instructor and Visiting Associate Professor Lars Roeder. The student submissions joined 140 artworks from North America and Europe and would be displayed in the Venice gallery through Oct. 30, according to the LAPS Facebook page.

Creating their submission for the project was the first assignment of the semester for students and with the deadline only a couple of weeks from there, they had to complete a quick turnaround to have their pieces ready. But according to Roeder, just being able to be a part of a project with the scope of the ImMigration Project provided valuable experience for students.

“For some of the students, it was their first or second showing, or like the first or second real project they’d been a part of,” Roeder said. “I think that’s powerful for them and to just think about the scope of where there’s prints from all over the country and internationally.”

The theme of the exhibit centered around migration and asked artists to respond to the theme and the various layers surrounding the topic through their work.

TAMU-CC junior and Fine Arts major Eric Cuevas drew from Greek mythology for his piece, depicting an American interpretation of the demi-god Asklepios standing watch in the South Texas deserts. She mimics the pose of the Statue of Liberty but holds a jug of water instead which she pours over herself, bound, as Cuevas notes, by her “ignorance and fear” from helping those that encounter her.

“I chose to focus on those coming to America seeking refuge and a better life and what they may be met with: the promise of hope soured with fear and hate,” Cuevas said. “To be honest, it hurts to focus on such painful concepts, but talking about these topics is necessary.”

Participants were asked to create a 15” right-angle, triangular print which would then be pieced together into a larger mosaic. While the theme of the project was immigration, many approached their piece from different perspectives or angles, weaving in more personal narratives or alluding to other instances of migration, such as the migration of marine wildlife some students detailed.

For Roeder, the varying approaches complimented each other when assembled in the completed work.

“What’s interesting, at least to me, is the overall concept is very targeted as kind of socio-political and activist-oriented,” Roeder said. “What’s interesting with the whole idea is that everybody doesn’t have to be that way. Like the concept of migration and movement itself, there’s people who are reflecting on it in a different way. I think that empowers the whole project of it. … It doesn’t have to be everybody screaming about immigration but maybe more making artwork that is kind of framing things as global or universal and kind of holistic.”

The students were able to see their pieces as part of the larger mosaic when they travelled up to the University of North Texas in Denton for the Southern Graphics Council International Conference in March. Since then, the project held a second call for entries that ended this past September before taking the original pieces, plus the new entries, overseas.

As stated on the project website, the exhibition will continue to grow and travel the world over the next couple of years. While Roeder says there are no current plans to have students submit work as an assignment again, he felt those that did gained valuable insight through the collaborative nature of the project.

“I think it expands their way of understanding how your work enters the world,” Roeder said. “It’s something that I remember as a student, but you see students start to grapple with. From the beginning, you’re just making projects to fulfill assignments but then, as they start to accumulate, and you start to refine your skills and make things you’re more proud of, what do you do with them next?

“And so, traditional exhibitions are one thing, but when it’s framed in this way where it’s collaborative. It’s almost like it’s a single piece that we’re all contributing to that has this broad and open-ended reach. It’s dynamic and it’s variable in a design sense. — That can broaden their scope of what is potentially possible, even for their own work.”

The submissions of the TAMU-CC students, and of the whole ImMigration Project itself, can be viewed on the LAPS Instagram at @laprintmakingsociety.