Monster Etching Press Makes An Appearance At High Point Academy


“I remember a night where my mom, dad, and grandmother were in the kitchen, and I was with my uncle. He had drawn out a dog and cat on big sheets of paper for us to color with oil pastels. I can’t remember much of him, but I hope that this press is used and cherished for the years to come at High Point.”—Rachel K., 8th grade.

By Norma Richman

Mr. Zack Davis’s recently renovated art studio is pretty crowded now. Not only is there a new kiln for ceramic lessons in one corner, but a very large flatbed printing press graces another corner. This is not your everyday printing press: weighing in at about 600 pounds, it can be used for lessons in etching, block printing, and experimental collagraphs and monotypes, but more importantly, Davis is constructing curriculum that encompasses skills and interests of all students, K to 8.

Eighth grader Rachel K. was one of the first students to create a traditional etching. As an HPA Trustee, I was happy to add my printmaking expertise to the effort. Rachel, Mr. Davis, and I experimented with materials that would work at the elementary school level. The result was a creative collaboration, and Rachel was happy to fulfill her uncle’s legacy. She says, “My family donated the printing press that was inherited from my uncle. My uncle Dan was a fine artist who would draw for me when I was younger. He worked as a commercial artist in Hollywood [before] reconnecting to his passion…of lithographic printing. Unfortunately my uncle died when I was five. My dad believes that my uncle would be happy that his printing press would be given to a school for the purpose of teaching art and printmaking and inspiring creativity in young people.”

Rachel, who admits she is well versed in clay sculpting, dove right into the printing process and noted comparisons between the two media. She confirmed that “the process of printing and sculpting are very different and the only bridge I have between the two is drawing…but it’s all fun and I’d like to continue trying it.”

Mr. Davis describes his curriculum this way:

“The Fine Arts and Design curriculum focuses on the development of artistic behaviors, including but not limited to, creative thinking, problem solving and innovation. Beginning in kindergarten and continuing on through the middle school years, students are guided through hands-on, project-based experiences that explore drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, collage and computer aided design. The curricular structure is sequential and built on a series of cohesive units that draw on age-specific strengths.” 

While the etching process involves specialized inks, acrylic printing plates, and papers, and lots of patience, younger children are using all sorts of materials in their creative pursuits, including rubber, vinyl, and cardboard. Collagraphs and monotypes afford even more freedom of expression for the budding artists, and their colorful work already covers the walls of the new studio.

Mr. Davis confirmed the innovations that this donation affords for High Point art students: “The inclusion of the printing press opens a new realm of possibilities. Given the myriad of techniques that make up the process, students will now have new and exciting experiential learning opportunities. The ability to actively engage in printmaking opens new doors to cross-disciplinary and culturally significant content. We are thrilled to have the press in the studio and hope to make it an integral part of our program.”

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