2021 residency artist
Sarah Klein @ School of Visual Philosophy
Early during shelter-in-place, I looked to my art practice to find comfort and meaning. No longer going to a communal printmaking studio, I instead used the supplies I had at home, offprints from silkscreen editions, paper scraps and brass brads. With this assortment I decided to make paper garlands to give to friends, family and a few supporters. My hope was that these garlands could help to connect us when we couldn’t be together physically.
Garlands hold rich symbolism in almost every culture. They are commonly used as adornment or offering or to honor or show reverence in ceremonial settings. As we continue to live in these challenging times, I will continue to make garlands as a way to establish or further connections to others.
When I was awarded a California Society of Printmakers residency at the School of Visual Philosophy (SVP) in San Jose, this entailed two weeks of studio access along with the technical assistance of SVP program director Dana Harris Seeger. During this time I planned to make a series of screen prints that I would cut and assemble into a larger and more substantial version of the earlier garlands. Diverging from my previous approach, I decided to incorporate imagery from the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. In preparation I pulled images from the news, social media posts, and photos that I took during shelter-in-place. I manipulated these images in Photoshop to deliberately make them abstract, and screen-printed them onto different papers in colorful layers. After I produced a good variety of prints to choose from, I mounted them onto acetate, which I then cut into discs and other shapes using a laser cutter. Then I strung all the pieces together with brass fasteners into the finished garland.
One of the more challenging aspects of this project was looking through newspaper articles in order to revisit the early days of the pandemic. It stirred up a familiar set of emotions and uncertainty, but I used this feeling of discomfort to guide my selection of images for the project. During the printing process I overlaid the images in such a way that no one in particular stood out. The result was a dense collage representing the many experiences of this time.
I am thankful that the residency gave me the tools and space to realize a large garland that I could not have completed otherwise or easily at home. The SVP studio was well equipped, and Dana was very knowledgeable and a pleasure to work with. In two weeks I was able to do a lot of printing, cut many discs, and put together a rough composition.
In January 2022 I returned to SVP to complete the work, which resulted in a seven-foot garland as well as smaller garlands made from leftover shapes.
Photos: Top left: The large garland created by Sarah Klein at the School of Visual Philosophy in San Jose, California. Top right: Dana Harris Seeger and Artist-in-Resident Sarah Klein consult at the laser cutter. Photos by Yori Seeger. Bottom left: Screenprints for The Garland Project by Sarah Klein. Photo by Sarah Klein. Bottom right: Sarah Klein lays out the large the garland at the School of Visual Philosophy. Photo by Johanne Marion.