By Tim Gihring //
On the first day of class, last fall, Natasha Pestich had her students at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design get their hands dirty. They made stencils out of Mylar or paper, cutting out letters or designs. Then they took the stencils outside and used paint rollers and sponges to push mud through the cut-out areas. When they pulled up the stencils, there were the images—in everyday, Earth-friendly mud.
The stencils were one way to introduce the students in her Relief Printmaking and Monotype classes to a common technique. But mostly it was an icebreaker. Aside from the occasional outdoor activity, the students have been working alone, mostly online, the entire year.
This week, starting on Wednesday, Pestich and her students will be dipping into the mud again. They’ll create new mud prints outside Mia’s 24th Street entrance, finishing up on Thursday, when Mia holds its Earth Day celebration both virtually and in-person at the museum. Visitors can watch them work on their designs, which Pestich expects to range from thoughts of spring to thoughts about pollution.
It’s hard to think of a more Earth-friendly material than, well, earth. Last time, the prints lasted for a couple weeks before wearing away. But Pestich says the project isn’t about making a big statement. The point, once again, is at least as much about community building after a long, difficult stretch. “There’s so much we’re holding right now,” she says. “This is a way of connecting.”