By: KATE LUCE
Bill Tourtillotte’s basic printmaking class and Ken Smith’s book cover design class have teamed with Brian Lair Books, a local bookstore specializing in books that provide inclusivity.
Smith was contacted by the owner of Brain Lair Bookstore to have a class engage in a project for the bookstore, which is how Tourtillotte became involved with the bookstore as well.
Now, the printmaking class is creating mostly relief prints of the alphabet with images corresponding with the letter. Each image will be culturally relevant to students.
“We are interacting with the owner whose mission is to create an atmosphere with books and or information she offers. Collaborating with her, thinking about what her mission is, students will then translate that into a letter form.
Our ultimate goal is that the letter form will create a larger meaning for what those letters will then say,” Tourtillotte said.
“I’m looking forward to creating for our community because of the messages it can spread. Sometimes you do not know who will find a piece interesting. So it is honestly exciting to watch my art spread and affect someone,” Moe Koenig, basic printmaking student, said.
As for the project, it was important for Tourtillotte to keep the notion of inclusivity.
With Brain Lair, the main goal is to provide students, especially elementary school students, with stories that they can see themselves in. Students who are in marginalized groups rarely get to read a story about themselves which in return, can make it difficult to read or find the need to read.
When Tourtillotte’s class arrived at Brain Lair Books during the first week of class, the owner, Kathy Burnette, brought this to the attention of the class. With this mission of providing inclusion to stories, more people are bound to read.
Students felt compelled to create work for this mission.
“I feel compelled about inclusion because it can be hard to not see yourself in popular media. You don’t tend to see people of color, of a different sexuality, a different gender identity, or a mental illness. It’s a bit frustrating because it doesn’t feel like you can relate to anyone. Personally, I want to change that through the work,” Koenig said.
Tourtillotte felt compelled to have his class create work due to printmaking closely relating to books, and the similarities printmaking and books have in present society.
“It is just interesting at this point in time where the print arts are challenged by the digital realm. They are not going away, but their role is changing, so to interact with somebody who owns a bookstore and interacting with the education of children and young adults in our community.
It is an interesting time to be doing that. I find a lot of optimism and hope in it, but there is also very large changes in our culture,” Tourtilotte says.
As an art class pushing out into the community, inclusion is just as important in the arts as well as in the stories we read.