2018/19 Art Practice & University Library Printmaking Award Winner: Alexandra Grabow

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Alexandra Grabow is a fourth year double major in Art Practice and Theater and Performance Studies at UC Berkeley. Even though she took her first art class during her senior year of high school, she has had a drive to create from a young age. As a young girl, Alexandra was taught how to needle point by her mother and quickly became obsessed with the craft; so much so that it has influenced her current work at the university. The block like x stitch of the needle point has grown to become a style of creating images that Alexandra has continued to use in her works. Her unique style can be seen in some of her portraits as well as landscape paintings done during her time at UC Berkeley.

In her fourth semester, and as part of her thesis project, Alexandra wanted to explore how these two forms of creation are connected. Through experimenting with printmaking and needle pointing, Alexandra discovered that the imagery in which these pieces were created were coming from two different forms of memory. After this discovery, Alexandra explored the connection between how the digital world of technology processes memory, and how the human world does it in similar and different ways. In the senior thesis show Alexandra created a free standing frame that depicts a map of how memory is processed and how the types of processing this information weaves in and out of one another. This style has been described by many of  her peers and professors as digital or pixelated; however, these descriptions differ from her print work which is described as more organic and atmospheric.

Two of Alexandra’s prints have been added to the Graphic Arts Loan Collection, and are available to students at UC Berkeley to borrow. Below are some thoughts on the prints from Alexandra.


EXPNDS is my latest intaglio series. I am continuing to work with the same types of etching process in previous print series. The reasoning for the title EXPNDS is because I am working with the largest size plate I have ever worked with. As of now this series is a two plate aquatint ground step etching. I have etched each plate once in the acid, with a box dusted aquatint ground. I used the same abstract brush technique to apply the stop out as my other plates, giving it the cloud like texture it has. Some of the prints from this series have been used in other parts of my work, such as my senior thesis project, and will continue to appear in mix media forms of my work.


EXPRMNTS was my first print series that experiment with a new abstract style of printmaking. Instead of trying to recreate imagery from what I saw in reality, I let myself create images that came from places inside my own mind. In many of my other fields I am completely about control and planning, while in printmaking I have been moving away from control and expectations of reality. Not only is the imagery created in this series different from what I have created before, but the process and techniques are also different. This plate series is a three plate aquatint and spray paint aquatint ground step etching. I etched each plate with a box dusted aquatint and used an abstract brush technique when applying the stop out. After the first round of the plates going in the acid, I box dusted the plates a second time and etched them in acid. The last time I sent the plate into the acid, I did a moderate application of the spray paint aquatint. I have printed multiple series of this three plate, three color, print and plan to continue to experiment with the series.

The Art Practice & University Library Printmaking Award is given to the undergraduate student in the Department of Art Practice who has demonstrated an astute understanding of printmaking techniques, as well as an advanced ability to express themselves through the medium of printmaking. This award was established in 2018 by the Department of Art Practice and the University Library, and is given to one or two students each academic year. 

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