You’ll get your hands dirty—possibly stained for weeks a time. What you’ll also do is create some spectacular art, blending cutting-edge technology with century-old printmaking techniques. MECA challenges the idea of traditional printmaking, encouraging you to push your work beyond the 2D, into the world of object-based art. You’ll learn about “thinking print”—the thought process of printmaking—and examine the relationship between making and thinking. You’ll work with letterpresses, silkscreening, woodblock printing, lithography, acid etching and computer-based photo and digital print processes. Your technical skills will grow, your design sense will evolve and you will master a physical process that demands patience,skill and limitless creativity.
What brought you to MECA?
I decided to stay somewhat close to home, and MECA was offering me a great scholarship. I also just really loved Portland. I liked that the school was all contained in one building and had 24hr access since Maine winters can be rough. Not needing a car to get around is fantastic. I originally wanted a big city, but realized that if I was going to college, a big city may not have been the best choice with too many distractions. I had taken drawing classes at the University of Maine while I was in high school and MECA was wonderful in transferring those credits for me.
What got you into wanting to make art for a living in the first place?
My mother went to MECA for photography for two years before moving to California. Growing up she had me doing all sorts of art projects a lot of the time, I did many drawings of animals, and my own pets. My father is deeply interested in studying plants and animals and he taught me how to take care of and raise birds, rabbits, dogs, and tropical fish breeds. I actually grew up wanting to be a veterinarian, I horseback rode a lot. But when I reached high school, although I excelled in my biology classes, in math I really struggled, I was also becoming much more interested in my art courses, so I figured there must be another way for me to work with animals, to integrate them into my life and be able to show others how much there is to be learned about the world through being around them.
What surprises have you encountered with your education here?
I think the biggest surprise is how easy it is to switch your interest in a medium. I came to MECA so focused on being a painter and after taking one painting class knew that it wasn't right the right major for me. I loved color theory, but wanted to build more. I became interested in woodworking and then felt I needed more room to mix multiple mediums and processes. So printmaking just felt right. I was able to construct puzzles, and work more with fabrics and color. I guess painting felt almost too open-ended and woodworking was too confining, while print was somewhere right in the middle.
What’s the best thing you've learned in terms of real world experience while being here?
You've got to be flexible about changing your ideas and plans for yourself and your projects. I think the worst thing someone can do coming into MECA is think they’ve got everything figured out and not attempt to really expand themselves beyond their comfort zones. That’s one of the best parts about the experience of MECA, having the opportunity to participate in such a range of courses. And I think it's equally important to stay open to the people surrounding you, just being aware that everyone comes to this school with different upbringings and backgrounds, and are all brought here for different reasons, can richen your experience here tremendously. We all have deep personal reasons/issues/questions for why we make art, and being close-minded will put you in a box and shut you off from not only what the school has to offer, but also from what others around you have the ability to teach.
How would you describe your art making style?
I use my art to make observations about the world through comparing specific species of animals and their unusual but completely natural habits, with our own unnatural/strange human habits. So my process of working begins with a lot of research about that species and many sketches/writings. If the final piece is going to be some sort of a sculpture or a print with multiple pieces I tend to make mock up models as well. I like having prints that come with multiple pieces for you to handle, pieces you can pull out and play around with. I’m interested in creating an experience for my audience that goes beyond viewing, so if they have something to play with that seems more fun to me. With the two sixteen foot wallpapers I printed I wanted to create a different experience, one that you could feel just from observing the overwhelming scale, but at the same time, to fully understand the piece you had to move in closer to recognize the imagery within the printed designs. The stories portrayed within the wallpapers were inspired from interviews I recorded with people who had shared an intimate moment with a wild animal, moments that opened their minds to viewing the world differently in some way.
What made you choose to major in printmaking?
Print originated as a tool for communication, so it naturally allows you to disseminate your work into the world easily. I enjoyed the idea of creating multiples of the same artwork in a hands-on fashion. Printmaking gives way to a lot of playing room. You can try out different processes before focusing in on the best possible approach to pursuing your idea and bringing it to life. Print also easily allows for collaboration with others which I find enticing because more often than not I work alone.
How has MECA helped you network outside of the school?
All of my commissioned works have been improved by the fact that I have an art education. Many people take you more seriously when they know the amount of commitment you put into your work. MECA teaches you how to professionally approach putting your work out into the world. In 2009, I was commissioned for a large painting and the patron was extremely enthusiastic about the piece but also about the fact that she was supporting a student specifically. One of the benefits about being a print major is that silk screening is a process that can travel well. I've helped MECA graduate Shawn Brewer with his project Fast Food Print a few of times, and once when we traveled to Bangor. It was really nice to be able travel home and represent MECA, even though our event wasn’t affiliated with the school. I'm proud of the relationships I have formed with my fellow students and professors, and have already experienced the many benefits and opportunities that have come about from those bonds.
What are your future goals and dreams?
My ultimate goal is to live sustainably, productively, and balanced with nature. I currently volunteer at Roaring Lion Farm in Rumford, Maine operated by a MECA alum. I'm extremely interested in the alpacas. Alpacas are raised for their fleece, and raising animals for products that don't involve slaughtering them has always been a dream of mine. I want to travel to South American countries, and also to India to possibly staying in the ashram where my father lived in Geneshpuri. Ultimately though, I want to have my own farm, with my own studio where I can print, do workshops and other collaborative projects. My junior year I participated in the an internship program where I taught kindergarten and third grade art classes. The third graders final project involved the students creating their own fantasy sports teams and designing their own logos which I helped them print on t-shirts at MECA. I would love to continue working with children engaging in projects similar to that.
How has MECA helped you form these goals?
One thing I have realized since attending MECA is that I was raised quite differently for a family from central Maine, and how much my family has influenced my art and perspectives on life. My parents are Siddah Yogian, a path of spirituality based from the teachings of Hinduism. I have been meditating since I can remember and meditation has allowed me to experience things purely within myself that i’ve never experienced performing anything other task. To know that there is so much energy around us that we don't see or experience, that's happening all the time, amazes and excites me, and my art has become not only an exploration of human-animal behavior/relationships but an exploration of my emotions surrounding these ideas.
I highly suggest students take Dana Sawyer's Potentials of Human Consciousness course. I was able to learn so much more about meditation from multiple perspectives. It confirmed a lot of the same ideas my parents had taught me as a child, only in a classroom setting, and much more objective which I appreciated immensely.
What expectations do you have from MECA in helping you achieve these goals when you're an alumni?
I will most definitely use the resources MECA offers to help further my artistic career after I've graduated. I feel as though I’ve made some really strong connections with specific teachers and students.
What are some of your other hobbies and interests?
I sing and write songs for a band called Contrapposto. Writing song lyrics is incredibly important to me, it's just another manifestation of my art. I've been singing and writing poetry since I was a kid and my uncles have been incredibly supportive. They had a remarkable band in the late seventies early eighties called Human Sexual Response. I'm interested in possibly incorporating sound into my art work this coming year. I'm also fascinated by costume and have been having a lot of fun dressing up with my bandmate for our upcoming shows. I think costume resonates with me because it allows me to experience the world in an unfamiliar manner which comes back to mediation in a way.
Elizabeth A. Jabar is a print based artist and her hybrid works on paper explore ideas of ethnicity and heritage. In her printed assemblages and artists books she displays a highly personal visual language, incorporating cultural motifs from folk art, religious traditions and textiles. Her works have been shown at galleries and museums nationally and internationally, including Victoria Arts Connection, Victoria, BC, Canada, Red Gher Gallery, National Gallery of Art, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, Pyramid Atlantic, Rhode Island School of Design, Long Beach Island Foundation for the Arts and Sciences, Montserrat College, Colby College Museum of Art, The Institute of Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art, The Center for Maine Contemporary Art, University of New England, The College of the Atlantic, La Jolla Fiber Arts, La Jolla California, Print Zero Studios, Seattle, Washington, Brighthill Press, Treadwell, New York, Hunter College, New York and The Center for Book Arts, New York, New York. Jabar’s work is in the collections of Pratt Institute, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Tides Institute, Maine Arts Commission, Amity Arts Foundation, New York Public Library and Print Zero Studios. Elizabeth’s gallery representation is Susan Maasch Fine Art in Portland, Maine. Her work was recently published in 50/ 50 A Survey of Contemporary Printmaking. Jabar has also won grants and awards including a fellowship residency at Vermont Studio Center in 2009. Elizabeth is Associate Professor of Printmaking and Foundation at Maine College of Art in Portland, Maine.
BFA, Massachusetts College of Art
MFA, Pratt institute
Printmaking Faculty - Elizabeth Jabar
THE WORLD OVER: MECA Faculty Exhibition: Elizabeth Jabar
Edwige Charlot '10
WHAT’S YOUR HOMETOWN?
I was born in France but I moved to Connecticut when I was nine. Part of my work right now is about the feeling that I don’t have a true home.
HOW CAN YOU MAKE MECA FEEL MORE LIKE HOME?
I think surrounding myself in the work I make—changing things, adapting things, making them mine.
WHAT MEDIUMS DO YOU USE?
I started off as a painter and then majored in Graphic Design and now I’m a Printmaking major. But I combine them all—they overlap.
WHAT ELSE ARE YOU INTO?
Collaborative community based things, like the Arts and Equity Initiative. It’s part of the Office of Multicultural Affairs for the city of Portland. I’m also working on a project called “Undoing Racism” which is based on issues of representation, identity, power, oppression and race.
HAVE ALL YOUR JOBS BEEN THAT MEANINGFUL?
I took time off and worked as a cake decorator and a pie maker—so, no.
SO SOMEONE HAS EATEN YOUR ART?
It was delicious.
What are some of the career paths for someone who majors in Printmaking?
Master printer, studio artist, teacher K-12 & college level, independent publisher/professional fine art press, organizer/teacher in nonprofit community organizations and education organizations, graphic design.
How do you prepare your students for the real world?
Students take required the Professional Practices course and prepare a professional artist packet complete with resume, artist statement and portfolio of images. Students participate in exhibitions, including curating, mounting work, prepare press releases, design and print promotional materials. Students participate in at least one Public Engagement collaborative project with a local community partner working with students from K-12 schools and/or other art colleges, and nonprofit organizations. Students learn project planning, work with community members in real world settings, and lead community workshops. Many of the printmaking courses are part of the new Public Engagement Minor at the college. The printmaking department is a leader in incorporating public engagement projects in the curriculum.Students learn how to write for different professional applications including, project proposals, artist statements, and thesis papers. Students are also skilled at articulating ideas verbally, and participate in rigorous studio critiques with their peers and faculty. Students are also given the opportunity to attend professional conferences in the field, including the Southern Graphics Council, a national conference of professionals and students in the printmaking world. The print department also invites national artists to the college to introduce students to the rich and varied field of printmaking practice and professional opportunities, and provide the students with an expanded network of artists.
What are some examples of what your alums are doing?
Master printer, teacher K-12, teacher college level, graphic design, nonprofit community workshops, community outreach, studio assistant, studio artist, gallery associate
What are the prerequisites to major in Printmaking?
Two electives in printmaking, and/or photo & digital elective, drawing.
What unique skills do your students get?
Formal, technical, conceptually proficient in both traditional and digital printmaking, experience in collaborative work, project planning, public engagement practices, exposure to teaching though partnership work and collaborative projects
Will I be able to incorporate other media or interests with my work as a Printmaking major?
Yes! Printmaking is a multi-disciplinary field and incorporates a diversity of materials, methods, and ideas. Students are encouraged to work across disciplines and incorporate ideas from outside the traditional boundaries of printmaking.
What are some of the classes that are offered in your department?
Classes that combines media: Pixels to Ink, Printmaking workshop, full range of traditional techniques: relief, etching, lithography.
What are some of the unique aspects of this program?
Integration of Public Engagement curriculum, community partnership work, projects, and exhibitions.
What are the faculty like?
Diverse, active artists in the local and national community, all the faculty use printmaking in very different and dynamic ways. This diversity provides the students with multiple models of printmaking practice and teaching methodology.
What are your facilities like?
Large, well equipped, provides student access to all traditional and digital print technologies.
What are some examples of internships your students have done in the past?
King Middle School, Cathedral School, Cultivating Multicultural Alliances, Wolfe Editions, Pickwick Press, studio assistant, gallery intern.
How many students (juniors and seniors) do you typically have in your major?