Senior studio art major and aspiring printmaker Olivia Fredricks recently received an Honors College Conference/Workshop Travel Grant to attend the Southern Graphics Council International conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. At the conference she showcased her honors thesis work on dispersible media and zines, gathering a plethora of advice and contacts from art institutions, professionals and educators from across the country. Olivia writes about the many benefits of her trip here.

My name is Olivia Fredricks and I am currently pursuing a BFA in Studio Art with an emphasis in Printmaking through the University of Arkansas’s School of Art. I am conducting my honors thesis research in dispersible media and zines, and as part of that research I have created a series of zines based off of interviews conducted by the Tibetans in Exile Today oral history project. The purpose of this project is to explore the capabilities of dispersible art as an avenue for ethnographic work, further the currently limited academic study of dispersible media such as “zines,” and share the oral histories of a people facing cultural erasure.

In order to further develop my project technically and conceptually, I attended the Southern Graphics Council International (SGCI) conference which was held in Las Vegas, Nevada this year. SGCI is a conference centered around printmaking, providing resources, networking opportunities, exhibition opportunities, mentoring sessions and more to professionals, students and educators in the field. As an aspiring printmaker, this conference was incredibly beneficial to my emerging artistic practice as well as my honors thesis work more specifically. I participated in the Open Portfolio program at the conference, where I laid out all of my work so far for all conference attendees to review. I received valuable feedback from multiple professors and department heads at other institutions (including the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Louisiana State University, Oberlin College, etc), as well as professionals working at organizations such as the Penland School of Crafts and Direct Angle Press. Many of the people who reviewed my thesis work suggested that I look into book arts and book arts programs to learn more about the formal structure of books, even ephemeral ones like zines. I also was encouraged to look into the work of other interview-based artists such as Kay Healey as a precedent to my narrative-focused work.

I also had the opportunity to connect with peers and contribute to an upcoming portfolio exchange between undergraduates that is being organized by students at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Furthermore, I was able to meet and connect with faculty at potential graduate schools such as Richard Hricko at the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia. Through discussions with him and another of his colleagues, Leslie Friedman, I’ve become interested in the printmaking scene in Philadelphia, which has a much larger arts community and many more opportunities for printmakers than what is currently available in Arkansas. In addition to meeting so many wonderful and helpful people, I was able to attend panel discussions and demonstrations. The most interesting panel I attended was about doing printmaking through the Fulbright open study/research program. In this panel, they discussed application tips and concerns for people interested in doing art-based research projects abroad. I was lucky enough to get the contact info for the panel’s chair, Kate Copeland, who did her Fulbright in India. I plan on applying for a Fulbright in the fall, and I was considering doing my research in India since I have been there before and am already doing a long-term thesis project based on the work I conducted there, so making that connection is really exciting and helpful for my future plans.