A Printmaking Journey from Oberlin to Poland

October 17, 2018
Phoebe Pan ’20
Maggie Middleton
Maggie Middleton ’17 Photo credit: Courtesy of Maggie Middleton ’17

From graduating with high honors in studio art to playing for Oberlin’s varsity volleyball team, Maggie Middleton ’17 has formed a resume of college experiences that is nothing short of impressive. Now, she has embarked on another surprising, yet fitting, adventure: studying printmaking in Poland.

In the months following her graduation, Maggie Middleton ’17 completed a two-week artist residency at the Fish Factory Creative Center in Stöðvarfjörður, Iceland, where she created patterns inspired by the surrounding landscape and then printed those patterns onto textile fabric. At the beginning of September, she presented a print exchange project at the international print conference, IMPACT 10, in Santander, Spain. Currently, Middleton is a master’s student at a two-year program in printmaking at the Eugeniusz Geppart Academy of Art and Design in Wrocław, Poland.

A significant part of Middleton’s passion for printmaking grew from key experiences at Oberlin: as a sophomore, Middleton cofounded the printmaking organization YeoPress, with Soren Carlson-Donohoe ’16 and Eliza Cuevas ’18, hosting events in which they would take their print work out of the studio and into public spaces.

Additionally, Middleton worked as print lab monitor in the art department’s Reproducible Media Studio, a job that led to her decision to pursue postgraduate studies. “I loved working in the print studio so much that I wanted to see how other studios looked and functioned,” says Middleton. “The big draw for moving to Poland was the printmaking facilities and seeing what the printmaking world in Europe was like.”

Her decision to pursue graduate studies was linked directly to the valuable support and guidance from faculty members at Oberlin. As a part of the Oberlin College Research Fellowship, Middleton spent two of her summers completing research with Dean Afia Ofori-Mensa. “Working closely with Assistant Dean Ofori-Mensa improved my writing and construction of research papers, and gave me confidence to go to grad school, knowing that I could hold my own with my peers.”

The Eugeniusz Geppart Academy program was recommended to her by Associate Professor and Chair of Studio Art Kristina Paabus, her undergraduate advisor and mentor. “She has given me so much valuable advice over the years,” says Middleton, “while simultaneously displaying how to become a professional artist and how to sustain that career.”

Middleton’s current work is grounded in themes of identity, assimilation, and expressions of gender and feminist issues. After completing her masters in Poland, she says that she hopes to find a position in a print studio and is currently in the process of applying to a lithography program in New Mexico to become a professional lithographer.

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