UH Hilo art students and alumni showcase skills at international printmaking conference

  • The group attended the 2019 Southern Graphics Council International printmaking conference in Dallas.
  • Professor of Art Jon Goebel says attending professional conferences is an excellent way for his students to network and hone their craft.

By Leah Sherwood.

Group photo at the convention venue, the professor and five students.
Group of students and alumni from UH Hilo art program at the 2019 Southern Graphics Council International conference in Dallas. (Left to right) Katya Huchinson, Jon Goebel, Nina Sabahi, Tiana Honda, Rachel Kishimoto, Jessica Loeffler, and Kawe Cruz. March 7, 2019. Courtesy photo.

Four undergraduate students and a group of alumni from the art department at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo showcased their prints at the 2019 Southern Graphics Council International (SGCI) printmaking conference in Dallas last month.

The students study printmaking under Jon Goebel, a master printmaker and UH Hilo associate professor of art. Goebel has shown his art in more than 150 exhibitions and has served as a board member for SGCI, the largest printmaking organization in North America.

SGCI holds the annual event to allow established and upcoming artists in the field of printmaking to network and be exposed to new ideas. According to Goebel, conferences such as this one are an excellent way for his students to network and hone their craft.

“For the students, this is a great way to see what their peers are doing off island and to see other people’s work,” says Goebel. “They have a chance to present their work and receive mentoring.”

Goebel credits attending conferences as one of his main motivators for pursuing art and attending graduate school. He says that students return from these conferences with new perspectives and more focus.

Jessica Loeffler, a senior art major who attended the conference, agrees that it was a formative experience. She is already trying to incorporate the techniques she learned during her mentoring session with Ryan O’Malley, a printmaker from Texas A&M University.

“It opened up my eyes to the variety of methods and textures I can use in printmaking,” says Loeffler. “In class we learned how to use copper, and maybe one other material, but at the conference you can see how people are using different materials.” She says she even saw artists screenprinting mustard and barbecue sauce onto sandwiches.

“I received positive feedback [for my work], even though I haven’t been printmaking long,” says Loeffler. “It was really surprising because people came by with business cards and I spoke with professors from other schools. It was a little overwhelming but it was definitely the highlight of my time at UH Hilo.”

Liv Johnson stands with her prints.
UH Hilo alumna and established artist Liv Johnson at the conference.

Printmaking is an art form that involves creating an original image and then transferring it onto another medium such as paper, metal, or wood. There are four different printmaking techniques. Intaglio, the process used by the majority of Goebel’s students, and the one favored by Spanish artists Francisco Goya and Pablo Picasso, is a process by which lines are etched into polished plates and sprayed with acrylic aquatint or melted rosin, thus creating a matrix capable of holding ink in a unique way.

“It is a method of making fine art, but also has multiple commercial applications such as printing shirts, posters and magazines,” explains Goebel.

This year’s conference was a four-day event with participants hailing from all over the globe. To secure the funding to attend the conference, Goebel and his students raised $4,000 in a joint fundraising event at a concert by UH Hilo’s Jazz Orchestra’s Frank Zappa tribute band. The artists screenprinted t-shirts while concert attendees waited in line before the start of the show. The money was used to offset student costs to attend the SGCI conference and to raise funds for the UH Hilo Jazz Orchestra to travel.


About the author of this story: Leah Sherwood is a graduate student in the tropical conservation biology and environmental science program at UH Hilo. She received her bachelor of science in biology and bachelor of arts in English from Boise State University.