This past week the University of Dallas’ printmaking studio was kept busy with their biannual visiting printmaker, this year Ernest Milsted, as part of the 31st Matrix Exhibition and Demonstration. Milsted’s exhibition, “The Last Islands” was on view Nov. 8 – 16.
“This week we helped him print an edition of 40 screen-prints,” senior art major Maddie Pelletier said. “They’re about various issues he sees happening in Louisiana currently, like land loss.”
Milsted, who attended graduate school with UD printmaking professor Steven Foutch, currently holds the position of Southeastern Louisiana University associate professor of Art and the Printmaking Area coordinator. He also serves as the faculty advisor to the Palmetto Press and the Clark Hall Student Gallery. Foutch spoke of Milsted as a mentor when introducing Milsted’s talk on Nov. 13.
“[Matrix] is the thing that you create that makes the image, so printmaking is indirect,” Pelletier said. “You don’t draw on the paper, you make something and use that to make an impression on paper, and the thing that you make is called the matrix.”
Milsted created several editions of prints in the printmaking demonstration before the show.
“They come and we — the advanced printmaking students and mostly graduate students — help print an edition of work for the artist,” Pelletier said. “The artist gets editions of their work and gets help making them.”
The demonstration teaches uninformed bystanders about the printmaking process, allowing them to understand the work more deeply.
“The state proof is basically a print of each stage, and it shows what went into the final piece,” freshman Anna Fojut said. “It’s really helping me to view his stuff.”
The prints from the students’ work with Milsted hung at the front of the show, while Milsted’s own work hung on white walls and two installation walls, deeper in the exhibit.
During his undergraduate career at Nicholls State University, Milsted took an interest in photography, which uniquely informs his inspiration for prints.
“A lot of printmakers will begin in drawing, and I just don’t come from that; I come from a photo background,” Milsted said. “I start there with my photos the idea being able to layer other images or information on top of that makes the photograph richer and can help create a narrative or tell a story.”
Milsted told the story of his native Terrebonne Parish, La.
“I’m from the deep South of Louisiana,” Milsted said. “We think of Louisiana as a boot, and right under the big toe is where I am from.”
From a young age, Milsted loved the area’s nature, inheriting his father’s love of avid fishing. However, this area has recently suffered many natural and man-made disasters with Hurricane Katrina and oil spills.
“The coast [in Louisiana] is vanishing,” Milsted said. “I moved away to go to graduate school to Indiana which is really far away from Louisiana for me, so I went back [to Louisiana] after graduate school, the place had changed quite a bit physically the landscape had changed, and so had I. “They say you can never truly go back home, and that’s particularly true when home is physically altered.”