Exploring new vistas

Founder and staff member Hanna Greenberg interviewed student Hannah Schwartz for this week's post.

Hannah Schwartz has attended SVS for three years. Last May, the SVS gallery exhibited a collection of her experiments with techniques that were new to her involving printmaking. After the opening I sat with her and we talked about her work. Here are some excerpts from our conversation:

Can you explain to me what the show is about? When I do photography and painting, I usually try to make everything perfect, especially with the photography, which I plan very carefully. But when I was learning how to make prints, the technique felt more like it was always a process and never really the finished thing, and I liked that. So in my exhibit I tried to show, as much as I could, how it’s ever-changing, and how it’s never perfect.

What techniques did you use? Some of them are screen prints where you block off some of the screen and then put paint on it and use a squeegee to go over the screen onto a piece of paper. And you can do different layers with different amounts of the screen being open or covered. Some of them were etchings where you have a piece of copper and coat it with light wax, and you draw in an image with a pencil, which scrapes away the wax. When you put the piece of copper into a bucket of acid, it eats away where you drew. So when you take the wax off, the ink only stays in the places where the acid was.

I noticed that some of your works are photos of David Bowie and Bob Dylan, and the others you drew by yourself. For screen printing I chose the photos. In both sets of prints you get different moods and feelings just by the techniques and the colors you use. What I was trying to do is show people the process. I hung the Bob Dylan ones so that the top one was the first layer, the second one was with another layer on top of the first, and the last one was the finished product. So that showed progressively more details in each one. The David Bowie ones were all the same number of layers but with different colors, different contrasts and different background colors. The same image in different colors touches you emotionally totally differently.

What about the two suns? That was a monoprint in which you have a piece of plexiglass that you paint onto and then you print it. So you can never get more than one copy of the same image.

You said that when you draw, you are a perfectionist and work very hard on the details, but when you do printmaking, the technique frees you more. I think that’s why I enjoyed it so much. I enjoyed making it instead of being worried about the product. With photography I enjoy it, obviously, and I enjoy drawing, but I always have a predetermined image in my head of what I want to end up with. With the printmaking, it was kind of experimental, so I never was stressed out about it not looking how I want it to look. I just did it, and I liked how it ended up in the end.

Do you think it will affect your drawing and photography? I have an understanding now that you don’t have to have all the art planned out beforehand. If I’m drawing, I can just draw and not worry so much about it. I am not sure about photography, because you have to have an image in your head when you’re looking at something.