“What a full house!” exclaimed a man upon entering Room 21 in Packard Hall this Wednesday afternoon. The room was full of students, faculty, and members of the Colorado Springs community who turned out to listen to visiting professor Jean Gumpper’s “Cross Currents” lecture. The Cross Currents program brings students and faculty of different departments into collaboration to learn and explore our world from fresh perspectives.
Jean is a master printmaker, who focuses on depicting nature through her art. During the lecture, she guided the audience through the process by which she compiles inspiration and intellectual material for her prints. Jean ventures into nature, lets herself be drawn to different spaces, and then remains in these places for a while, simply observing and absorbing the immediate area around her.
Jean’s international and domestic travels into a variety of natural landscapes guide and inspire her printmaking process as she captures a range of multi-sensual experiences in nature on two dimensional spaces. In these natural places, she listens and as she puts it, “Feels the air.”
Although printmaking is a primarily visual medium, Jean seeks to translate the non-visual senses into her works through color choice. After chiseling the wood to her liking, Jean adds colors which she must continually layer until she finds the coloring sufficient.
I am admittedly ignorant of the details involved in the printmaking process, but I know that it involves a lot of chemistry. Neither Jean nor most art students understood the chemical process. The ignorance persisted, for Jean and her students, until one of Andy Wower’s chemistry classes visited Jean’s studio early this year.
As Jean and her students guided Andy and his students through the printmaking process, Andy provided insight into the chemical reactions that occur during the process. Jean thanked Andy during the lecture for offering “insight into the ‘how’of printing.”
Interdisciplinary collaboration is a force for questioning our perspectives of our own small intellectual universes. On the Block Plan, we immerse ourselves in one subject at a time and often become complacent in perspectives of looking at the world that our specific class expounds.
We stagnate our own creativity when we accept a perspective without challenging it against other perspectives. Andy offered an insight into chemistry that even a master printer like Jean was unaware of.
Acquiring a new perspective on something we love will not lead to an immediate surge in creativity, but it can reinvigorate our passions and inspire artists, like Jean, to further explore her medium.
Jean said. “We look at prints so differently because we know different things.”A chemist experiences a print much differently than another printer because they approach the art with incredibly different intellectual attitudes. Understanding these perspectives increases a printer’s own views on the process, the final piece, and how people interpret the art.
Pictures of Jean’s prints are available all over the Internet if you just search her name.