Every year, Walla Walla hosts a festival to celebrate Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, a holiday remembering loved ones who have passed and celebrating their lives. It is a wonderful, lively event where the community comes together to share culture and art and food and music.
A fixture at the festival is the printing of giant woodblocks carved by printmaking students from Whitman. I was lucky enough to get to participate this year, and create my own work for this occasion. We spent four weeks and countless hours preparing for this one day, where we essentially constructed a printmaking studio in the streets of downtown, and inked and printed our blocks with a steamroller donated by the city (it was all very exciting).
The event had so many moving parts, and it was so fun to see everyone coming together to make it happen. Volunteers from community art organizations like Art Walla set up art activities for visitors of the festival, and worked with Whitman art students and faculty to bring printmaking to the public and share our work that celebrates this important time.
I absolutely love printmaking, and it is something that is not terribly widely known or understood, so it was really rewarding to share this passion of mine with curious folks, and to be appreciated for the hard work we have been doing. The anticipation when the steamroller passed and we lifted the blocks from the sheets to reveal each print was contagious, and I could feel the excitement of all the people who just cared about art. It couldn’t help but make you smile.
After we finished printing for the day, there was this sense of camaraderie among classmates and everyone who was involved in pulling this off- a little swell of pride, a “look what we did!” moment. I can say I am really grateful to have been involved in this event, and to be a part of this wonderful community that appreciates sharing art and making art and supports each other in it. It was a really fun afternoon, and made me excited for more opportunities to get involved in the Walla Walla community.