Artists all over the world have been challenged to make big changes in their studio practice since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially when the work they do is collaborative and cooperative, in the way that printmaking is. Often several printmakers will form a cooperative as a more cost effective way to share tools and materials, especially printing presses. Now, with the physical distancing required during the pandemic, printmakers have had to make other arrangements, often working from home.
Printmaker and educator Francesca Baldarelli (MFA 2018) has had to adjust her teaching methods as well as how she creates her own prints. At HopeCAT Youth Arts, she teaches printmaking techniques via live video to her homebound students so they can learn to print without all the usual tools and supplies — and she is using those techniques herself in her own work. Recently Baldarelli was accepted into a print portfolio exchange that asked artists to make their work about ideas or experiences having to do with the pandemic. For Baldarelli, it’s all about the materials she uses. She has been working with gel prints and collage, and hand-printing monoprints (one-time unique prints) without a press. That’s how she is creating an edition of prints for the portfolio exchange.
A print or portfolio exchange is a collaborative printmaking tradition in which each participating artist produces an edition of prints large enough that each artist in the exchange will receive one print from every other artist. For the Covid-19 Print Media Portfolio Exchange, Baldarelli has been creating one-of a kind prints using a gel printing plate and bubble wrap to print, sometimes collaging cut out magazine images onto the page. Here are images of her work in progress: