New Print Technology
CCS Art faculty member Linda Ekstrom uses a professional development grant to study the Boxcar method
by Emma Shapiro
Linda Ekstrom, CCS Art faculty and CCS Art alumna ‘82, embodies the collaborative CCS environment in each of her CCS Book Arts courses. Throughout her career, she has researched and mastered new printing methods which she brings back to the classroom and develops with students. Ekstrom recently received a Professional Development Funding award from UC Santa Barbara, which will allow her to study and explore Boxcar printing methods.
The Boxcar method, a relatively new print technology developed by Boxcar Press in Syracuse, New York, uses a flexible photopolymer plate to print text and images. Once Ekstrom integrates the new process into the curriculum, the CCS print shop will add this option to its primary focus on metal and wooden type, and relief print methods.
Receiving the Professional Development Funding allows Ekstrom to introduce valuable new techniques in her courses and to explore these in her own research and art practice. “The Professional Development funding will support my research in a direction that can directly benefit the students in our program,” explained Ekstrom. “The ability to research, develop, and introduce to the students, new methods within the genre of 2D printmaking is critical to my teaching in the College of Creative Studies Book Arts Program. The funding affords me the opportunity to collaborate with my students by sharing the Boxcar method with them in my letterpress, printmaking and book arts courses.” In typical CCS fashion, Ekstrom intends to provide hands-on demonstrations and work with her students as they explore the Boxcar method in in their own practices.
Ekstrom plans to incorporate the Boxcar method in two upcoming projects where she will create text and image plates for printing on the letterpress. The first is an artists’ book that incorporates French poet Paul Eluard’s poem, “De Notre Temps” (In Our Time) with other related elements. She also plans on creating a series of limited edition prints from original text-based drawings. Ekstrom describes these drawings as “blind-contour-writings that serve as visual meditations on common objects.”
Ekstrom has received the Professional Development Funding on two previous occasions. The first gave her the opportunity to travel to Amherst, Massachusetts, to visit the Emily Dickinson homestead, which was the inspiration behind a series of works she later created. For the second, she was given funding to research different methods for creating non-traditional one-of-a-kind books created from silk and linen cloth. Each time, Ekstrom shared with her students what she developed. “In both cases, the works that I created were shown in subsequent solo and group exhibitions.”
As a studio artist, Ekstrom believes that the funding is crucial to evolving both her philosophy as an artist and her role as a teacher at a research institution. “As I develop my studio work I do so in a way that often factors into my approach to teaching,” Ekstrom stated. “Being a visual artist is primarily a solo experience, but my goal is to share with the students the various stages of advancement of my studio practice.”