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BIG INK Brings Big Designs To Morean Arts Center

Polly Perkins, a St. Petersburg, FL based artist, demonstrates how to carve a woodblock using an ancient Japanese tool. THOMAS IACOBUCCI/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

Rolling fresh off the press into the Morean Arts Center is a big, traveling, one-of-a-kind exhibition that offers wood, ink, and a limited-time “babka.”

The Morean Arts Center will be hosting a special exhibition in collaboration with BIG INK this weekend highlighing the art of printmaking with a mobile woodblock printing press.

BIG INK, LLC, is a New Hampshire-based woodblock printmaking organization that travels across the United States with its very own “custom-built” press that prints hand-carved woodblocks reaching sizes up to 4 by 8 feet in dimension.

Aiming to bring the arts and education to each destination, BIG INK chose St. Petersburg due to its “vibrant creative community” and selected the Morean Arts Center in part of its “100 plus year commitment to promoting the arts.”

Polly Perkins, a St. Petersburg-based artist, is participating in the BIG INK printing press for the second time after exhibiting her work with the organization in Philadelphia last year.

Polly Perkins, a St. Petersburg-based artist, is participating in the BIG INK printing press for the second time after exhibiting her work with the organization in Philadelphia last year. THOMAS IACOBUCCI/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

“We’re thrilled that BIG INK chose the Morean Arts Center as one of 23 destinations that they were planning on their 2019 tour,” Morean Arts Center Executive Director Howayda Affan said.

The weekend event will allow guests to experience a live demonstration of the woodblock printing press, as well as an exhibition of selected artists.

“There’s going to be ink flying and these artists who create their images usually alone in a studio are going to be here in almost a live performance mode as they navigate the physical process of doing the printing to produce this finished artwork,” said Robin McGowan, director of marketing and communications for the Morean Arts Center.

Polly Perkins, a St. Petersburg-based artist, is participating in the BIG INK printing press for the second time after exhibiting her work with the organization in Philadelphia last year.

A self-described woodblock printmaker and painter, Perkins is one of the 17 artists selected to have their designs be printed with the BIG INK.

Perkins got into woodblock printmaking because she liked the process.

“I liked the wood grain and the action of carving. It was very pleasing,” she said.

Perkins submission, a rendering of a human figure against an urban Veneitan landscape, based off the work of Italian Renaissance artist Tintoretto.

Perkins submission, a rendering of a human figure against an urban Veneitan landscape, based off the work of Italian Renaissance artist Tintoretto. THOMAS IACOBUCCI/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

Her submission, a rendering of a human figure against an urban Venetian landscape, is based off the work of Italian Renaissance artist Tintoretto. It lays carved on two separate woodblocks in preparation for the printing on Saturday.

The urban landscape within Perkins woodblock shows the canals of Venice, the home of the Renaissance painter she drew inspiration from for this image.

The urban landscape within Perkins woodblock shows the canals of Venice, the home of the Renaissance painter she drew inspiration from for this image. THOMAS IACOBUCCI/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

The woodblock printing press has the artists carve their vision into a wooden board before an ink tranfer “presses” against a blank canvas, essentially inverting the original image.

Curators unfurl artist Andy Ritzo's image titled "The Tyger," in preparation for the BIG INK exhibition.

Curators unfurl artist Andy Ritzo’s image titled “The Tyger,” in preparation for the BIG INK exhibition. THOMAS IACOBUCCI/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

“Part of the excitement is not knowing what it’s going to look like until it’s done,” said Perkins, gesturing to her woodblock and the contrasting final print.

Attendees of the BIG INK exhibit can also stop in at the Banyan Café on Central Avenue — located in the Morean — to try a limited offered, fresh-baked pastry called a babka, crafted in the spirit of the event.

The exhibit is open to the public from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

A finished print from the BIG INK woodblock printing press hangs mounted alone on the wall in preparation for the exhibit this weekend.

A finished print from the BIG INK woodblock printing press hangs mounted alone on the wall in preparation for the exhibit this weekend. THOMAS IACOBUCCI/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

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