I am spending four days this week in Texas, where I have been invited to teach a solarplate intaglio workshop to printmaking students at a community college just outside Dallas. I've been to Texas a few times, but this is my first time in this area. From my twenty four hours here so far, Dallas appears to be an endless veldt of single story buildings, covering every inch of a gently undulating ochre coloured landscape, in every direction, as far as the eye can see. As my hosts drove me back from the airport to their home in a suburb forty miles away, I saw the same thing you see in every American suburban streetscape: highways thronged with cars, driving past shopping malls with Best Buy and Target stores, Starbucks, Radio Shacks, clothing stores, and so on. And megachurches -- so many of them that I lost count, behemoth constructions capable of holding 6,000 people, sometimes standing two abreast on the highways. That equals a lot of evangelical Christians, my friends. Supply equals demand for the Lord's work.
The houses where my hosts live are all very nice, situated on tidy tree lined streets, with sidewalks where I took a walk earlier this evening (and I was the only one doing that). I'm not trying to say that this is some hideous suburban nightmare, because in its featureless way it's sort of interesting. It's like everything that's bland and comfortable about modern American materialism, but just far more of it than anywhere else I've ever seen. And everyone who lives here is probably just the same as everyone else -- they are where they are because of jobs, housing, schools, and so on.
And colleges. There's a branch of the University of Texas up the road, but I am here as a guest of Collin County Community College, in Plano, just outside of Dallas. They have a great little printmaking program, run by a fine teacher and printmaker called Carter Scaggs. Today I took his printmaking I and II students through a demonstration of solarplate intaglio etching, preceded by an artist's talk. The photos in the slideshow above show: me talking about how I started printmaking, the master printer I worked with in London, his connection to Crommelynck and Picasso, and how printmaking has informed my artistic work ever since; then you see me working with the students on aquatinting and etching their solarplates on a big UV light table, inking up their plates, wiping the plates, and finally printing the plates. All of the students were talented, willing, and interested. I got to speak a little Spanish with Maurizio, too -- originally from Paraguay, now living in Texas. I was pleased to see that almost every print came out well, and the ones that didn't still provided an opportunity for the student to learn something to carry forward to the next print.
Altogether, it was a very tiring and very rewarding day. Tomorrow: a trip to the Dallas Museum of Art.