Last Friday I had a terrific team of students at Wellesley College help me hand sand the Dura-Lar surfaces for three large scale drawings I’ll be working on this year. The drawings will each measure 10′ x 4′ and will be featured at the Davis Museum in a group exhibition of the studio art faculty at Wellesley College.
Hiring studio assistants is a first for me; generally speaking I’m someone who likes to be directly involved in every part of the process. The physical engagement and tactility of the materials has always been hugely important to me. I’ve always known that even if I had the resources to have someone else do the printing for me in my printmaking work that I never would. In this case, the task of sanding 12 sheets of 10′ x 4′ sheets of Dura-Lar was too enormous and daunting on my own, so I knew that assistants would be necessary if I was ever going to be able to realize these drawings.
I had a total of 7 students working over about a 3.5 hour period in the woodshop at Wellesley College. I have to say that I’m still amazed that we were able to sand everything in such a short period of time. As we worked together, everyone got into their own rhythm of working, figuring out their own unique tricks for sanding to make their approach more efficient. The sheets of Dura-Lar were large enough that it took two people to move them around without damaging them, and peeling the protective plastic was a three person job.
There’s something fun and satisfying about working with a group of people to achieve one collective goal, you feed off of everyone else’s energy and gain momentum throughout the time you work together. The assistants I worked with were hard-working, thorough, and detail-oriented, so I feel lucky to have been able to work with them. All of them came into the job without any required experience, and they boldly jumped into the task with enthusiasm and commitment. It was quite a nice contrast against last year when I hand sanded 12 sheets of 3′ x 4′ Dura-Lar by myself in my garage throughout the year.