In August, a dynamic fusion of artistic innovation and community collaboration unfolded at the annual Steamroller MKE event. This vibrant gathering, held at the House of Rad in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood, brought together a diverse array of artists, students, and enthusiasts to celebrate creativity, forge connections, and support Anchor Press, Paper & Print (AP3) — a cornerstone for emerging talents within PSOA and beyond.
For Beth Lemerand, a PSOA student in her final year pursuing a BFA in Studio Art with a focus on Printmaking and Book Arts, the Steamroller event marked a significant chapter in her artistic journey. She reflected, “I came to UWM because of the vastness of the printmaking program, and it has been even better than I could have ever hoped for. This program has given me so many opportunities to work with organizations all over the city through the connections that faculty have built. AP3 is a great example of this connection!”
For the Steamroller MKE event, Beth carved a 2 foot by 4-foot woodblock. Her artistic process was a fusion of inspiration and technique, beginning with a source image that resonated with her.
“I used a projector to project the source image onto my block and trace the big shapes. I don’t like to plan everything too meticulously as it’s more fun for me to sort of draw with my carving tools. Next, I’ll stain the board with red or black stain to seal and color the wood in order to make it easier to see what I’m carving. Now it’s time to start actually carving with a set of small gouges. Everywhere that gets carved out will not hold any ink, so I go through and carve away all the white space I’ll want to show in the final print. For me, this is super satisfying because I can see the image emerging from the wood bit by bit.”
Beth’s participation in the Steamroller MKE event was a meaningful experience for her. As she approaches the end of her BFA program, her involvement encapsulates her growth, dedication, and engagement with the artistic community. This experience highlights the valuable role that such events play in nurturing emerging artists, fostering collaboration, and contributing to their artistic journey.
Another PSOA student involved in the event was Cole Lehto. Enrolled in the BFA Studio Art – Dual Focus program, Cole embraces the freedom of exploring multiple artistic avenues from jewelry and metals to sculpture, drawing, and printmaking. This interdisciplinary approach has enabled him to delve into advanced classes across various mediums. Cole’s participation in the Steamroller MKE event included 30 hours of meticulous hand-carving for his woodblock print.
Drawing on skills acquired from an advanced printmaking class at PSOA, Cole utilized special Japanese steel gouges for his carving process. His approach blended traditional drawing techniques with digital elements, resulting in a powerful and symbolic artwork.
Cole’s creation explored the theme of transgender survival, crafting an intricate piece that symbolized strength, connection, transformation, and resilience within the transgender community. The artwork featured intricate imagery of winged beings, chains, and leaves, all of which communicated the multifaceted nature of the transgender experience.
Participating in the Steamroller MKE event not only allowed Cole to express his artistic vision but also facilitated a sense of camaraderie and collaboration. He formed connections with fellow artists from various backgrounds,
“There was a small group of both UWM alum and current students, we were meeting together and carving together, having little carving parties. And it was really cool. It was really fun. Weekly we would be getting together and spending a few hours working together and having the goal in mind and then beyond the fact that it brought me to other students, at the actual event it had called artists from all over… It was a great community building event that connected me with people.”
For Cole, this event was more than just a creative endeavor, it was a testament to the impact that art can have on individuals and communities. His dedication to his craft, thoughtful approach to his work, and engagement in meaningful artistic dialogue make his journey a shining example of the power of art education and community engagement.
The impact of the Steamroller MKE event extends far beyond the realm of creativity. It serves as a beacon of art’s transformative potential, a force that bridges divides, sparks dialogues and fosters unity. All while providing amazing experiences for Peck School of the Arts students to engages with Milwaukee’s artistic landscape.