Arts & Culture » Arts

Rolling art

An [Artspace] at Untitled event allows local artists to dream bigger.


[Artspace] at Untitled’s Steamroller Print Fest returns for a third event - April 28. - [ARTSPACE] AT UNTITLED / PROVIDED
  • [Artspace] at Untitled / provided
  • [Artspace] at Untitled’s Steamroller Print Fest returns for a third event April 28.

Soon, several local artists will get the chance to watch their work publicly run over by a steamroller.

A free event Saturday, [Artspace] at Untitled’s Steamroller Print Fest will feature live music and dance performances, family-friendly crafting activities, food trucks and the main attraction the name suggests: a five-ton steamroller used to press prints from woodblocks carved by local artists.

Alexa Healey, education director at [Artspace], said the festival is a way for the arts collective to give printmakers an opportunity to work on a grander scale than they typically use.

“We wanted to print on larger surfaces than the indoor printing presses have the capacity to print, so that led us to moving it outdoors, and with a steamroller, it acts in the same way as a normal etching press because of the barrel on the steamroller,” Healey said.

Holly Hodge, director of program operations, said the outdoor event gives [Artspace] a chance to engage with the public on a larger scale.

“It’s just like a really big way for us to get more involved with the community,” Hodge said, “because we do a lot of small events indoors, but we want to introduce people to our printmaking program and our print studio and this is just a really fun way to get local artists involved and get people to know more about what all we do.”

The idea to press woodblock prints with a steamroller, Healey said, was popularized several years ago by James Bailey at University of Montana, and it quickly spread.

“It kind of caught on fire because you can use any type of wood or anything that you can carve out of for the relief printing process and take it outside,” Healey said. “You can use Tyvek, bed sheets, any cheap material that’s big enough to cover it and print in a way that isn’t as highbrow as what you would see indoors on, like, a large piece of paper that would cost a lot more money. So it really is a way to engage the community and talk about printmaking as an art form. We are definitely not the first people to do it, but we are the only ones doing it in Oklahoma City.”

[Artspace] held its first steamrolling event in 2013, but Healey said it was much smaller in scope and none of the collective’s current staff were around to attend. This year’s fest will be the third.

“Last year, we brought it back because we thought it was a really fun activity, and it really tied in to all of our programming and our mission as an organization,” Healey said. “Pretty much everyone on staff was here last year, so this is really our second go-round, and we think it’s going to be a whole lot better.”

[Artspace] at Untitled’s Steamroller Print Fest returns for a third event - April 28. - [ARTSPACE] AT UNTITLED / PROVIDED
  • [Artspace] at Untitled / provided
  • [Artspace] at Untitled’s Steamroller Print Fest returns for a third event April 28.

Adaptive technique

Artists including Adrienne Day, Richard McKown and Untitled’s current artist-in-residence Emma Difani have contributed woodblocks for printing. Healey said the method for pressing the blocks is similar to traditional printers, but the prospect of having their prints displayed outside might inspire some artists to adapt their techniques.

“I think what would change their process would be the fact that it will be seen on the street by people driving by,” Healey said. “So instead of maybe using tiny mark-making lines that they would for something to be viewed one to two feet away, you know you could walk up to it, they’ll be making it for people actually driving down the road and seeing it from maybe 50 to 100 feet away. It’s the same process. It’s more pressure than what would be actually on top of the woodblock for a printing press, but the process and the idea is still the same.”

Participating artists could submit blocks with dimensions between 2 feet by 4 feet and 4 feet by 8 feet, which Healey said is “a really, really large print.”

Hodge added that giving artists the opportunity to submit such large works allows them the freedom to think in terms that might not be practical in a more traditional setting.

“Pretty much, I think the big thing that changes is that they get to do it on so much of a larger scale,” Hodge said. “So any big idea that they had before that they couldn’t do because they’re limited to smaller presses, and this is one of their only chances to maybe carve that really big work that they wanted to do.”

Bryan Boone, for example, submitted an intricate laser-cut woodblock, which Hodge described as “super precise, which usually is totally opposite from what you’ll see on a woodblock.”

Younger artists enrolled in the collective’s mentorship program are also using the opportunity to expand their creative palettes.

“We have our high school students; a lot of them are going to be participating,” Hodge said, “and they just always do really cool and amazing work.”

Children attending the festival can create artworks of their own at a T-shirt printing workshop where they’re invited to paint their own designs on pieces of polystyrene. They’ll also be encouraged to paint on scraps of wood to “feed” into a large transparent cat sculpture designed for filling with smaller original artworks. Oklahoma City Thunder mascot Rumble the Bison and Dental Depot’s train will be on-site, and adult beverages will be available for purchase from The Big Friendly Craft Beer Bus. The prints created will also be for sale along with other artworks from 10 vendors. Live music and performances from local dance companies including Sweet Yield Studio will provide entertainment, and the festival will culminate in the monthly Deep Deuce Sessions concert at 7 p.m.

Call 405-815-9995 or visit

At [Artspace] at Untitled’s Steamroller Print Fest, artists use a steamroller to press art onto various surfaces. - [ARTSPACE] AT UNTITLED / PROVIDED
  • [Artspace] at Untitled / provided
  • At [Artspace] at Untitled’s Steamroller Print Fest, artists use a steamroller to press art onto various surfaces.

Location Details Artspace at Untitled
1 NE Third St.
Oklahoma City, OK

Latest in Arts

Add a comment