I graduated from Sterling in 2016 with a degree in the Environmental Humanities, and I often think about doing it over again. It would be so different if I could have known the things I know now. I’ve grown much in the past few years, and I grew so much at Sterling. 

Leland showed us how to make linoleum block prints my first semester in a Papermaking and Bookbinding class, and I haven’t stopped since then. My spinning wheel may be dusty but my carving tools are never put away. I especially like the calming and tactile experience of block printing. I am finishing my Environmental Studies master’s degree right now, and I welcome any breaks from the screen. Art is grounding for me. Remembering my experience at Sterling is grounding, too.

Something I started learning at Sterling was how much my approach would have to change in regards to environmental work. That’s one of the reasons why I connect so much to the North Star symbol in the new logo: it represents the genuine belief in a just future. I don’t think this work can be done without, at least a curiosity, toward hope. It sounds so corny, but I have found that little flashes of hope really do surround us, even in the most devastating knowledge of environmental problems. I believe that this genuine, not forced, hope keeps us connected and engaged with the family of life. I hope this piece of art can serve as a reminder of that. 

Step one: 

Always start with a circle.

Step two: 

You have to understand your image. See it from all sides, backwards and inverse. It’s the only way you’ll know what to do next. If using text, take it slow. You’ll be surprised how soon backwards shapes look right. Symbols are made, not found. And we can always make new ones.

Step three: 

Carve an opening for the image to appear. My job is to welcome this image: Our landscape, lens, the North Star, and Sterling’s ripple outward. I know this scene pretty well; I am part of it, and so are you. Through the process of carving, I make space for the light. The North star becomes brighter and brighter. I know we need this light, so I offer my labor.  

Step four: 

When rolling ink on linoleum for the first time, remember to say hello. Now you have to facilitate the meeting of paper to ink. It’s a delicate balance knowing how much pressure to use. Power requires self-awareness and being attuned. You’ll figure out how to wield that power. Gentle and strong at once. Now, lift the page.

Step five: 

Witness. Every print is different. That’s what makes each one remarkable. And each moment, unveiling, remarkable. Perfection can’t compete with this. Feel the light, the wind, and the life in the ink. Feel all the moments strung together, how they made this print. Now this print is part of moments to come.


Filed Under: Blog Environmental Humanities

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