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K-State Today

December 21, 2016



Scuilla secures National Endowment for the Arts grant to support sustainable printmaking

By Noelle Blood

The National Endowment for the Arts has given K-State a $20,000 Art Works grant to support "Transforming Printmaking through Chemical Innovation," a collaborative project to transfer safer, sustainable technology from the electronics and biotech industries into fine art printmaking.

Jason Scuilla, associate professor of art, will collaborate with Stefan Bossmann, professor of chemistry, to lead a team of artists, scientists and students to research, develop and refine electrochemical etching processes and green biosolvents, empowering artists to create prints in a safer and more effective manner.

Biodiesel-based cleaners release no volatile organic compounds into the atmosphere, and are virtually nontoxic to artists and the environment. Innovative etching methods can eliminate caustic acids and environmentally hazardous waste disposal.

"It's very important to artists that these materials are safer, more affordable and perform as well or better than traditional, more toxic methods," Scuilla said.

Results will be rigorously tested by a consortium of invited artists, master printers, students and educators, who will create a suite of prints for traveling exhibition and continued education of printmakers around the world.

Scuilla's mastery of electrolytic etching techniques has been recognized internationally in the scientific and print communities. He has lectured and demonstrated at universities, conferences, art centers and print shops throughout the U.S. and Europe. His earlier research has been recognized and supported through K-State Small Research Grants.

Several key artists of national reputation are committed to the project, including Shelley Thorstensen, Evan Summer, Jaune Quick-To-See Smith and Karen Kunc. The Mid America Print Council, American Chemistry Society, Printmakers Open Forum, Printeresting and Osprey Biotechnics will serve as key organizational partners.

"I'm grateful to have the opportunity to work with this talented team of artists and scientists," Scuilla said. "Printmaking combines scientific process, commercial technology and artistic creativity. It's a perfect link between the arts, sciences and industry. This research has the potential to make a global impact on the practice of printmaking and serve as an example of groundbreaking interdisciplinary collaboration."

Art Works is the National Endowment for the Arts' largest funding category and focuses on the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and the strengthening of communities through the arts. The National Endowment for the Arts will award 970 Art Works grants in fiscal year 2017, totaling nearly $26 million to organizations in 48 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Read more about projects included in the National Endowment for the Arts grant announcement.