A new class emerged this semester from Weber State University’s Department of Visual Art and Design. The honors class brought together an unlikely group of students, all coming from different majors, bringing their knowledge and interest in each field with them.
Kathleen “K” Stevenson instructed “Silkscreen: The Artist as Change Agent.” Stevenson recalled that, of all the students, only one has participated in any previous art classes since middle school.
“Art isn’t just for art’s sake,” Stevenson said. You don’t need to be an artist to create meaningful art.
Stevenson’s goal for the class was to expose the students to art as a form of speech. They learned about pressing social issues and specifically focused on privilege and power, as well as food insecurity. Other issues tackled by students involved climate change and politics.
Their art is meant to give viewers an emotional context to help them understand and resonate with the idea. Along with their own work, they performed service for the Ogden Food Bank using the issue of food insecurity as their motivation.
After examining and reflecting on these issues, the students were taught the method of silkscreen to give them tools to represent their thoughts.
Silkscreen is a printing process that requires the picture to be transferred to a fabric screen and then transfers ink onto the final surface. This medium could be paper or other materials like T-shirts and wood. This process is much more complicated than it sounds. One piece could require multiple steps and layers of printing.
Throughout the semester, students learned this process and began to incorporate their own interests in relation to the social issues of the class. Pre-med, chemistry, psychology and education majors took the role of the artist to share their ideas.
“I wanted to remind the students art is less about making a pretty thing and more about creating awareness,” said Stevenson.
She referred to art as a visual language that everyone can understand. The images are meant to evoke thought and bring an issue into view that otherwise wouldn’t be heard. Hence the name of the class, “Artist as Change Agent.”
Stevenson wanted students to see the role art has played in our culture, which is a visual mirror back to us, and that anyone is capable of using it no matter what their major is. It is more about content and ideas, rather than creating something pretty to look at.
The student exhibition will be displayed in The Student Project Gallery in the Kimball Visual Arts Center until Dec. 16. The exhibition is a cumulative display of the work done throughout the semester.
The BFA Exhibition will be on display, which shows graduation candidates’ capstone artwork before they receive a Bachelor of Fine Arts from WSU next door in the Shaw Gallery.