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Siniossoglou Brings Book Arts and a Printmaking Studio to Campus

November 3, 2008
By: Worcester State University News

Denmark. Bulgaria. Greece. Switzerland. France. Lithuania.

These are the countries where Amaryllis Siniossoglou (Visual and Performing Arts) exhibited work in juried art shows as a result of her 2007-2008 mini-grant, Digital Art, Digital Printmaking, Book Arts.

In all, she participated in 28 exhibitions in the United States and abroad in 2007 and 2008, winning special awards for her work in Bulgaria and Lithuania.

The mini-grant enabled her to buy supplies—inks, special papers, cloth, photopolymer plates—that she used in her own work and experimented with for possible use with her students.

“It’s such a treat to be able to buy different materials, different brands and see how they react,” she said.

The mini-grant totally supported the creation of some of the books she exhibited.

“I tried a different linen, a more expensive one, for two books,” she said. “This material reacts totally differently than the cheaper version.”

Trained in traditional bookbinding in her native Greece, Siniossoglou says that book arts, or books made by artists, may or may not be bound.

“They’re made of glass, paper, all different materials, and they may have text or not,” she said. “They stimulate discussion about what a book is.”

Her own work inspires assignments for her students. And vice versa.

“What I do in my classes motivates me,” said Siniossoglou, who is in her fourth year at the college.

Two years ago there was no printmaking studio on campus. Now, should you visit room 106 in the gym building, you’ll see a scrupulously clean printmaking studio, an area with seven computers for digital arts, and a sculpture studio.

Siniossoglou led the renovation of the former storage space. She and Stacy Parker, who teaches sculpture, are responsible for the student crew that keeps the space spotless.

Creating the space to work was a first step. Department funds purchased a small printing press. Introducing students, most of whom take art classes to fulfill general education requirements, to printmaking was the next step.

“I brought my own materials from home,” Siniossoglou said of the first printmaking exercise she offered as an assignment in her Computer and Studio Art course two years ago. “We started slowly.”

And successfully. She sent 12 submissions from that class to Arches, a printmaking competition at Boston University. Nine were accepted. And three students sold their work, she said.

That printmaking assignment grew into a Computer in Studio Art II course, which combines the computer, book arts and printmaking. The mini-grant enabled Siniossoglou to purchase inks and special papers to experiment with printing on the press and computer to see how students would respond.

“They loved working with these materials,” she said. “It all worked very well.”

“The printmaking studio has no ventilator, so students use non-toxic materials in the printing process. We’re absolutely doing green printmaking,” Siniossoglou said.

The college does not yet offer a major in art, although it will submit such a proposal to the Department of Higher Education this semester. Thus, students usually start from scratch in these courses. One challenge Siniossoglou faces is the student who announces that shes signed up for printmaking but is clueless about what this entails.

“Assignments need to provide enough structure so students are not lost,” she said. “But if you give them too much structure, they all create the same thing. It’s a balance.”

It seems Siniossoglou, with her one-step-at-a-time approach to these classes, has found that balance. In the spring 2009 semester, she will offer Intermediate Printmaking for the first time as students wanted another printmaking course. Shell introduce them to the use of color in printmaking.

And come fall 2009, she’ll offer a course in book arts. “Not many courses are offered in book arts, so I may attract students from other colleges,” she said.

It’s a safe bet that Siniossoglou will attract students from other colleges for such a course. Shes shown that if she creates it, they will come.

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