Artist Polly Perkins works life-sized on Big Ink press at the Morean Art Center

21 Sep 2019, Posted by Robin McGowan in ART Matters, Community, Events, In the Papers, Morean on TV, News, Press Releases

St. Petersburg, FL (Sep. 28 thru 29, 2019) – The Morean Arts Center, will host a special exhibition celebrating the ancient art of printmaking with contemporary themes and a one-of-a-kind super-sized woodblock printing press the weekend of September 28 thru 29. The exhibit is free and open to the public from 11 am to 4 pm. The exhibit was created in partnership with BIG INK LLC of New Hampshire, a non-profit with a mission of educating the public about woodblock printing.

“The Morean is partnering with BIG INK to bring this resource to the community because printing equipment of this scale and portability is rare,” said Morean Arts Center Executive Director Howayda Affan.  “It aligns with our mission to engage the community in art experiences. Children of all ages will be especially delighted with the scale of this work and the opportunity to see the artists producing the printed works together.  It is a process that is partly performance art requiring creativity, communication and teamwork.”

St. Petersburg artist Polly Perkins was among the 17 Florida artists selected to participate in the exhibition and demonstrations. She also participated in the 2018 BIG INK exhibition in Philadelphia. “This woodblock press is capable of printing images 40 inches wide and 8 feet high, so it provides an opportunity to work with figures that are life size,” she said in a recent studio interview.


“I really enjoy the opportunity to explore contemporary themes with the traditional woodblock printing process,” said Perkins. Her Philadelphia print was of two abstract figures she drew in the weekly Saturday Figure Drawing Open Studio at the Morean Arts Center.  “It was a quick sketch of two figures in short poses,” she explained. “The first figure in pose and the lines, reminded me of Picasso’s work. Then I just liked the relationship between the angles of the first and second figure with the second figure looking like she is looking at the first.”


For the St. Petersburg exhibition Perkins was inspired by another master artist. “A quick sketch by 16th century Venetian artist Tintoretto inspired my woodblock design titled ‘Tintoretto Dreamboat.’ In his drawing a figure is twisting around to look directly at us, its clothing swirling around with a grid in the background. The face is neither male nor female. In my version I wanted to see this figure as large as life,” said Perkins. The 30 inch by 60 inch woodblock features the figure perched amid the rigging of a ship docked in Venice at night. Perkins’ participation in the BIG INK workshop was funded through an individual artist grant from St. Pete Arts Alliance. She and the other artists, who work together to operate the woodblock press, will each make 3 prints of their work which will be available for purchase.

BIG INK travels across the US with their custom-built press, helping artist teams print at designated stops along the way. “We selected St. Petersburg because of its vibrant creative community and the Morean Arts Center because of their 100 plus year commitment to promoting the arts,” said BIG INK’s Director Lyell Castonguay. “The partnership furthers our mission to inspire greater appreciation for large-scale woodblock printmaking and extend its practice.”

The press will be set up in the middle gallery of the Morean Arts Center at 719 Central Avenue in St. Petersburg. The audience experience planned for the weekend includes a live demonstration, an exhibit of Big Ink art from prior wood block artist collaborations that is available for sale, and the opportunity to sample BIG INK drinks and desserts at the Banyan Café on Central, in the Morean Arts Center.

Families and children will have the opportunity to prepare for the BIG INK exhibit by doing their own color mixing and mono-printing project at the Saturday’s at the Morean FREE Community workshop being held in the Bank of America Children’s Learning Center Classroom on Saturday, September 21. The morning drop-in sessions begin at 10 am and the afternoon at 1 pm for ages 5 to 10. Children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian for the entire workshop.

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