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Amanda Swift’s first graders at Shirley Chisholm ES (1001 G St. SE) were introduced to printmaking through a study of work by Linda Lomahaftewa, a printmaker, painter, and mixed media artist, based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Swift chose this artist because she considers her work child-friendly: “the subject matter, colors, simplified shapes and often flat format” and because she’s both a contemporary Hopi-Choctaw artist and a woman.

The students studied Lomahaftewa’s recurring motifs (spirals, straight lines intersected by pairs of perpendicular lines, and repeating ‘X’s) and considered their possible meanings. Some saw the spirals as tumbleweeds or holes in the desert. The straight lines suggested dragonflies, airplanes, rain, or plant seeds. And the ‘X’s were most often interpreted as trails or map-markings.

To create their own prints, the artists used printing ink on Gelli plates, reusable printing plates for monoprints. After applying the paint, they used yarn, paper clips, q-tips, and other tools to draw designs before pressing a sheet of paper to the plate to “pull” the print. They also practiced layering prints on top of other prints.

Finally, the students were encouraged to create their own stories around one of Lomahaftewa’s images of a young woman, and make a print illustrating the beginning or end of their story. The results are striking. A selection will be on view in the Young Artists Gallery on the ground floor at Hill Center (921 Pennsylvania Ave, SE) through the end of September.

Ms. Swift invites you to “Enjoy the one of a kind prints that monoprinting offers. There are many printmaking techniques and monoprinting lends itself to interpretations of lines and the imagination that is sure to be inspiring.“

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