For the past 20 years Queen’s Fine Art has been supporting a trip to North Adams Massachusetts. There, tucked neatly away in the Adirondack Mountains is Gravity Press, which houses the largest printing press in North America. North Adams is also a North American Art centre. This small town is home to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), The Clark Art Institute and the Williams College Art Gallery.
Each year a small group of 4th year students carve 8x4ft woodblocks to be printed. Over a 4 day trip they work in groups to print 4-5 giant prints on one of the most unique presses in the world. The Gravity Press, press is designed primarily for mono- printing, which means Queen’s is unique in our decision to print woodcuts. It is an exhausting weekend, but the students are fuelled by their enthusiasm for the craft, and Otis Tamasauskas’s exotic cooking. Otis established the trip in the late 80’s, and over his 30 some odd years of teaching at Queen’s has continued the tradition, always adapting to new hurdles along the way.
The trip is designed to provide a heightened and professional, printmaking experience for students who hope to continue this tradition after graduation. Students learn how to function within a professional space, as well as work with their pears to create the best work possible. In addition to this, trips to the local, internationally acclaimed galleries aim to inspire, and provide a unique look into the North Adams art centre.
In the weeks leading up to the trip, 4th year students fundraise on their own. We apply for grants from the university and other sources, but the majority of our finding comes from bake sales and other initiatives.