Bit of History
Professor Arnold Bittleman, whose forte was drawing but who also had a passion for printmaking and design, founded the art department in 1966. In fact, the printmaking and photography components grew out of a particular design class he offered in 1968 entitled Basic Design: Graphics. In 1973 Bittleman bought two American French Tool presses and established the print shop at Union College. (It’s interesting to note here that with minimal yearly maintenance, the presses still work very well and have many more years of printing left in them.)
The print shop is located in Arts 103 and is a spacious room that looks out onto the Union campus with the Nott Memorial being a focal point. It houses two etching presses: 1- Charles Brand (36” X 60” bed) and 1-American French Tool ( ). It also has one lithography press – (). There is a Charles Brand hot plate and a newly purchased (Spring 2003) NuArc UV light machine, a drying rack as well as space for rolling out ink, soaking and blotting paper. The shop also provides two long tables that seat 14 students. All instruction for printmaking and design happens here as well as critiques. A projection screen that is used for showing slides is available for slide lectures. Cabinets along the bottom of the ink rolling area house press blankets, tools, wood, inks and rollers. Two sets of flat file drawers allow for student storage use each term. The shop also houses a Fisher acid hood with storage for acids and solvents. Students have access to Photo Shop via a student designated iMac and an Epson 2200 printer.
Coupled with its long history and rich tradition, printmaking plays an equally rewarding role in contemporary art. Today’s printmaker is experimenting with photo processes and digital processes as well as maintaining the more traditional processes. Unconventional methods such as polymer photogravure and ink jet digital prints are becoming as vital as the classical procedures of intaglio, relief and lithography.
My vision for the Union College printmaking program is to incorporate these newer methods of working into the visual art curriculum in a substantial way as well as to bolster the traditional offerings.