Washington State Magazine

Fall 2004


Fall 2004

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In This Issue...

Features

A Little Bronze—Strategically Placed :: Although it might be better known for wine and wheat, Walla Walla is also home to one of the most prominent fine-art foundries. For a short time this fall, 32 sculptures cast at the Walla Walla Foundry will reside at 13 locations across the Pullman campus.

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Gallery: A little bronze—Strategically placed Photos by George Bedirian. }

Tracking Trucks :: One heavily-loaded eighteen-wheeler can cause the same highway damage as 7,000 cars. Ken Casavant and other transportation economists are trying to make sense of the effects of trucks on the state's highways.

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Gallery: Truck Drivin' Man Photos by Rajah Bose of the romance of trucking. }

No Hollow Promise :: Half of all new public-school teachers quit within five years, and the best and brightest are often the first to go. Worse, the attrition rate at high-needs schools is even greater. The CO-TEACH program at WSU decided to change this situation.

An Exquisite Scar :: The beauty of the channeled scablands comes from unimaginable catastrophe.

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Gallery: Images of Washington's Channeled Scabland Photos by Robert Hubner. }

Carlton Lewis—Still Building Bridges :: The early 1970s were tumultuous years on the WSU campus. As student body president, Carlton Lewis helped keep things from boiling over. Now he presides over Devcorp Consulting Corporation, a project management company with teeth.

Panoramas

Departments

:: SEASONS/SPORTS:Big little man Bill Tomaras

Tracking

Cover: Edison Elementary teacher Jacqui Fisher '00 with students Dillon Skedd, Alejandrina Carreño, Jorge Herrera, Kylee Martinez. Photograph by Laurence Chen.

Panoramas
Catherine Parkay etches the plate for her engraving.

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Catherine Parkay etches the plate for her engraving. Robert Hubner

Kevin Haas, of Fine Arts, with Kelsey Sutich.

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Kevin Haas, of Fine Arts, with Kelsey Sutich. Robert Hubner

Three Worlds Escher

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Robert Hubner

Melissa Bozarth

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Melissa Bozarth. Robert Hubner

Enthaos

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Robert Hubner

Kristina Black.

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Kristina Black. Robert Hubner

Lisa Williams

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Lisa Williams. Robert Hubner

Inking the engraving.

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Robert Hubner

Imagine: Class combines word and image to understand William and Blake

by | © Washington State University

The English poet William Blake (1757-1827) is usually taught merely for his poetry. But Blake, says Debbie Lee, was more of an artist than a poet. In fact, it is possible that he started with his visual creations, then composed verse to accompany them. Blake's earliest training was in art. It was only later that he tried poetry, then gradually melded poetry and engraving to develop his strange and complex visions and mythology.

Lee, a professor of English at Washington State University, believes that it is essential for students to understand Blake's technology, his engraving and printing, if they are to truly understand his poetry. And how better to understand that technology than to practice it?

Soon after Lee got approval to teach a class combining Blake's words and images, she learned that Fine Arts had just hired a new printmaker, Kevin Haas. Lee contacted him, and thus began their collaboration.

Lee begins the class with a weeklong discussion of what the relationship between word and image means. Today's visually oriented students take naturally to this relationship, says Lee, primarily because of the Internet.

"The Internet combines text and image," she says. "That's how they read. Their reading process includes thinking about the relationship between text and image."

A class later in the semester entailed group reports. Much more than the expected "he-said-she-said" summary of the criticism, the students gave sophisticated and perceptive analyses, weaving together the images and words of various works by Blake. Kristina Black and Caitlin Sullivan discussed Visions of the Daughters of Albion, Albion being Blake's vision of a lost and mystical English past. Richard Lassiter, Bill Pratt, and Jamie Wilson discussed The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Blake's vigorous attack on the conventional and self-righteous in society.

Well into the semester, having gained a solid grasp of Blake's visions, the students spend two Saturdays making their own prints, under the tutelage of Haas, in the manner of Blake.

Rather than using Blake's method of acid etching on copper, which is both expensive and dangerous, Haas teaches the students to engrave on Plexiglas. After printing, they color their prints with watercolor, just as Blake did.

"The Nature of my Work," wrote Blake, "is Visionary or Imaginative." Understanding his Vision and Imagination is difficult. His images and metaphors shift and transform. In fact, he declares, "That which can be made Explicit to the Idiot is not worth my care." By studying his complete process, Lee believes, students rise well beyond the explicit toward a grasp of Blake's often challenging, often bizarre, always rewarding vision.

Click here for more about the Blake class. To view an extraordinary collection of online prints by Blake, click here.

Categories: English, Fine Arts | Tags: Printing, Poetry

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