In 2011 Cuban artist Eduardo Hernández Santos came to Hampshire College (Amherst, MA) as a visiting artist and stopped into my printmaking studio (Zea Mays Printmaking) for a visit. He stayed for a couple of days to make prints (thanks to Steven Daiber of Red Trillium Press). During his studio time he experimented with a safe, versatile, easy printmaking process called polyester plate lithography. Taught to Eduardo by our member artist Anne Beresford, this process allows artists to use either a laser printer or hand drawing with ink, markers, crayons and ball-point pens to make lithographic printing plates. Unlike traditional lithography, this process does not use any toxic chemicals, does not require sophisticated photographic equipment, heavy stones, etc. It’s versatile, easy and relatively inexpensive.
Eduardo was so impressed with the process that he invited me to come to the San Alejandro Academy of Fine Arts in Havana, Cuba to teach this process to his students and members of the Havana printmaking community. I was also invited to bring an exhibition of prints from selected member artists of Zea Mays Printmaking. Sheldon Carroll, our exhibitions coordinator (and my husband) joined me on this trip to oversee the exhibition and help with the workshop. After over a year of waiting to receive a Special Permit to travel to Cuba from the U.S. government, we got the official U.S. travel documents and began to plan this trip in earnest.
In emails back and forth with Eduardo, I realized that the printmaking studio at San Alejandro was painfully low on supplies. The materials they do have are industrial cast-offs. I needed to bring everything with me to conduct this workshop. And I mean everything! Printing plates, paper, inks, cotton balls, rollers, tape, pens, pencils, spray bottles, sponges, xacto knives, etc. Even the laser printer and extra toner cartridges. The list went on and on. Through a Kickstarter campaign and other donations from studio members and the wonderful people at Graphic Chemical and Supply and Renaissance Graphic Arts and our own cupboards at Zea Mays Printmaking we were able to put together three suitcases full of art supplies.
Sheldon and I began our adventure with five suitcases and a laser printer on November 6, 2013. We didn’t know what to expect when we boarded the airplane from Ft. Lauderdale, FL to Havana but we were eager to begin our adventure.