Art Professor Prints Woodcut of Founders to Commemorate Centennial

This is the second story in an occasional series on HSU’s 2013-14 Centennial celebration.

When art professor Sarah Whorf first learned of HSU’s 2013-14 centennial celebration last year, she knew she had to get involved.

So she began thinking of how she could use her printmaking skills to help commemorate the university’s first 100 years.

Whorf contacted HSU’s Marketing & Communications Department—which, along with various campus groups—is helping host a yearlong series of activities and events commemorating the historic event.

She decided to create a 10 5/8’’ x 7 1/2’’ woodcut that will be used by HSU throughout the centennial celebration. The original print will also be available for purchase beginning later this year.

“I wanted to create something that was unique to my skills and that reflected who I am and what I do,” says Whorf, who specializes in woodcuts. “I also wanted it to be recognizable and reflect the natural and architectural beauty of Humboldt State.”

For inspiration, Whorf spent a day during Winter Break wandering around campus and snapping photos.

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Art professor Sarah Whorf’s centennial woodcut will be featured in a collection of works with her students.

“It was the Monday after finals week, everyone was gone and the holiday star was on Founders,” she recalls. Whorf visited a number of spots, but found herself coming back to Founders Hall.

To get the full perspective, she walked all the way around the building and took photos from different angles. “The north side has a lot of really cool architecture, but I kept coming back to the west side,” she says. Finally, she decided on the most iconic view—Founders from the front, with a view of the stairs.

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Whorf traced a photo of Founders, refined the drawing, then carved her design into a woodblock.

Whorf spent a few days tracing the photo and refining the drawing, then carved her design into a woodblock. To create different effects, she used different carving tools and changed the angle at which she held the instruments. The areas she carved away remain white, while the un-carved areas left in relief on the block have ink rolled onto them with a brayer. The inked image on the block is then transferred to paper with pressure from a printing press to create an original woodcut print.

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The final woodcut features Founders head-on, its familiar rhododendron bushes and a student with a backpack making the long trek up.

Whorf’s final woodcut features Founders head-on, its familiar rhododendron bushes and a student with a backpack making the long trek up. She says it reflects the natural beauty of campus, its 100-year history and its future moving forward.

“I tried to capture what HSU means to me,” Whorf says, “Hopefully, it will compel people to find their own inspiration.”

Stay tuned for updates on all things Centennial by visiting humboldt.edu/centennial or by liking the HSU Centennial Facebook page at facebook.com/hsu100.