Today a group of eight girls had the opportunity to take a short trip down the road to visit the working studio of Ann Dergara, a painter and print maker living here in Brevard. Ann is a professional artist with more than 50 years of experience showing her work, writing and teaching, and she’s a great friend of Rockbrook.
When we arrived, we were greeted by Ann and her small dog, Alice Cooper. The girls enjoyed Alice’s greeting and were very eager to pet her furry back. Ann and Alice then led us into their cozy basement studio where Ann stores and creates some of her work. The girls immediately began taking in the different paintings and prints displayed around the room. Ann wasted no time as she described the unique art of print making. She informed the group we would be working on monoprints. The magic in monoprints is they are original and are only printed once. Ann flipped through several of the prints she has created telling us she has made around forty thousand in her career.
Ann then lead us through a doorway into the room where the fun happens. She had a table set up with a bright assortment of colored inks, a variety of fresh brayers (used to roll out the ink), and some clean plexiglass plates. As Ann spoke, she used a plate to demonstrate how monoprints can be made. She took a brayer and began rolling thick black ink onto her plate. She then grabbed a paint brush to add a layer of grey ink filling in the rest of the white space. Ann wrapped up her demonstration by adding textures onto her plate with different types of fabric. The girls were “ooo-ing” and “ahh-ing” every step of the way.
After aprons were on, each girl found an open spot around the table. Some immediately grabbed a paint brush or a brayer while others planned in their heads what colors they would use and what they would create. Similar to all aspects of camp, each girl had their own beautiful way of approaching their print. Voices chattered ideas back and forth while also applauding and encouraging one another. Those girls who hesitated at first quickly began to feel more empowered and confident in their decisions! In no time, each girl was happily creating their print with confidence and joy.
As the girls began completing their prints, Ann had them step up to her printing press. The printing press is where the magic happens. It is the machine that finishes up the printing process. Ann would place a decorated plate on the press before covering it with a damp piece of paper. The press was then slowly rolled over the plate and the final result of the one-of-a-kind monoprint is revealed. Once again, everyone applauded each other over the work being produced. After all of the prints were complete, the girls were then ready to begin the process again by creating a second print. This time they had some experience and felt more confident stepping up to their plates.
Like monoprints, Rockbrook girls are one-of-a-kind. We travel from different corners of the world to spend a few weeks of our summer at camp. Once here, we bring our diversity together to teach, encourage, empower, and support one another. At the end of our print making session we were able to go home with beautiful prints. Similarly, all of us at Rockbrook will be able to return to our homes with bits and pieces of our summer. Girls may come home with friendship bracelets, cabin-made t-shirts, other art projects, or bend-a-back beads. They bring home all of these gifts, along with their sweet memories, which they will cherish until they can once again return to the Heart of the Wooded Mountain.