One of the goals of the exhibition Power of the Press, which features socially and politically themed prints, was to provide a unique opportunity for Ashland University art majors to be fully immersed in the experience of planning and implementing an art exhibition. Senior art majors, Kaylin Henry (graphic design), Danielle Rhonemus (art education and printmaking), Randi Schimmoeller (printmaking), and Hannah Thome (art education) were selected as research assistants, bringing a broad range of artistic knowledge and skills to the project. Beginning in fall semester 2014, these students worked closely with the exhibition curator, Dr. Wendy Schaller and Coburn Gallery director Cynthia Petry to plan the exhibition and determine how best to engage and educate viewers through the experience of the art of the print. Initial brainstorming sessions led to the decision to complement the Ashland University print collection with a juried exhibition of contemporary prints that shared a similar theme. Students assisted in writing the call for entries for this portion of the exhibition which received a very positive response from artists across the United States. These students designed the marketing logo, advertising posters, postcards and even a Power of the Press t-shirt. They prepared the gallery space and installed the works of art. At the exhibition opening they demonstrated printmaking techniques and fielded questions from the public.
Additionally, they volunteered through the Art Saturday program to educate area school children by creating prints that focused on the theme of bullying. Most notably, these students engaged in research on the historical artists featured in the exhibition as well as into the various printmaking techniques represented in the show as a whole. Students were then tasked with learning how to condense their research into concise, but engaging and informative panels that would speak to a broad audience. Given the success of this initial project, we hope to be able to offer similar opportunities for our students as a regular part of Ashland University’s art program.