Syracuse UniversitySan Francisco


"Carving Through Borders"

VPA Printmaking Event to Focus on Immigration

printmakingTwo professors from Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts—in collaboration with Bay Area artists and youth groups—will be using a really heavy-duty tool to create large-scale woodcuts at an upcoming event in San Francisco’s Mission District. A two-ton steamroller will press seven-foot-long woodcarvings covered with cloth during “Carving Through Borders,” a printmaking event to be held Saturday, March 29, under a tent outside Paul Mullowney Studio, 931 Treat Avenue. Focused on the theme of migration, the event will be part of the 42nd annual Southern Graphics Council International Conference, and open to the public.

The SU faculty members, Holly Greenberg and Dusty Herbig—along with six graduate and three undergraduate students—are collaborating with San Francisco artist and activist Favianna Rodriguez to coordinate the event. Rodriguez is founder of and Culture Strike, two nonprofit organizations that use various forms of art to educate the public about U.S. immigration policies and to mobilize communities to fight discriminatory immigration laws. Rodriguez, well known for her graphic artworks used in immigration rights campaigns, has chosen 15 artists to create one-of-a-kind designs that will be carved into woodblocks, inked, then printed on muslin cloth using the steamroller.

“The choice of cloth over paper is intentional,” Greenberg says. “It has a durability that allows the prints to be used as banners in political marches and human rights demonstrations across the U.S. Thanks to the sustainability of cloth, the project will endure over years and have exposure beyond the walls of galleries.”

Engaging the Community

The first exhibition of the prints will be held on the SU campus at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, hosted by the school’s Program for the Advancement of Research in Conflict and Collaboration. The prints will be on display in the atrium of Eggers Hall, and the subject of a public lecture. The artwork will also be exhibited in San Francisco art galleries; dates and locations to be announced.

Greenberg is excited to bring the steamroller print studio—which has been an annual happening on SU’s Shaw Quad for the past six years—to San Francisco. “During ‘Carving Through Borders,’ we will be engaging community members and conference attendees to watch, participate, and ask questions,” she says. “They can meet the artists, learn about the process of printmaking, and talk about migration and what it means to them. Conversation leads to awareness, which is the first step to change.”

To set the groundwork for the March event, Greenberg traveled to San Francisco in December and held a workshop for participating artists and youth groups. She discussed the history of the woodcut as a means for social change in the Mexican Revolution, and the work of contemporary artists using the medium. “Not only are youth learning technique, graphic skills, drawing, and printing methods, but they will contribute to the discussion on the issues of migration, and express their own ideas through a visual medium,” Greenberg says. “The topic of migration is the foundation of who we are as a country.”


SU alumni are invited to meet the faculty and artists at a reception on Saturday, March 29, from 4 to 6 p.m. R.S.V.P. online at

See photos from the December workshops.