Print-making artists go national

Sherry Lucas

Saddleback Community College has two students being honored at the Los Angeles Printmaking Society 20th National Exhibition on Oct. 29 to Jan. 3.

Collette Siegman and Susan Unoura are students as well as artists in Saddleback instructor Bill Riley’s printmaking class and have been selected by LAPS to display their art at the upcoming event.

There were 1,800 entries from all over; out of those 193 were accepted. The process is to send in five images. If the judges choose an image, then the artist must write an essay on the technique used. If the artist is chosen, the writing becomes part of the artist’s statement and is printed in a catalog.

“What are the odds on two students from Saddleback Community College getting into a national show?” Riley said. “As a teacher I’m proud.”

“This year the biennial marks a special occasion with the exhibition being held at the L.A. Municipal Art Gallery in the Barnsdall Art Park, from Oct. 30 through Dec. 29. The LAPS National is the largest survey of contemporary printmaking in Southern California, and showcases American and Canadian artists working in all aspects of print media alongside works from many of the celebrated presses of Los Angeles. This is the largest National exhibition ever presented by LAPS.  It will include two historical exhibitions highlighting the development of contemporary printmaking locally and around the United States,” as stated in the LAPS newsletter.

LAPS “is a really difficult group to get into. You submit your art and you’re judged on your works,” Unoura said. “The group has very high standards. I am honored to be in the LAPS Society, and even more so to be in the National Show.”

At the local level, the printmaking taught by Riley gives students experience in different aspects of art such as etchings, linocuts and woodcuts.

“He’s the one that creates the special topic every year,” said Siegman. “It gives us something new to learn.”

The specific area of printmaking being studied at this time is monoprint.

“This program stands up against the universities, both in the printing area and number of techniques,” Siegman said.

Siegman feels Saddleback’s art department is much more sophisticated than some other colleges and thinks it is great that it is not necessary to be an art major to take classes.

Unoura said, “What’s so unique about the printmaking class is you don’t have to know how to draw, you just need an artistic ability to want to express yourself through art.”     

The fact that two students are qualifying in the LAPS 20th National Exhibition show says a lot about the artists, program and instructor.

“They are among the top professionals in their field,” said Riley. “It gives great value to their work.” 

Susan Unoura has spent 25 years in the picture framing business, most of that time in her home-based business.

She has taught framing for over 10 years at many of the colleges in the area, and is currently teaching for Saddleback College’s community education program. 

Unoura began drawing about eight years ago, then moved to printmaking, which she has been doing now for about five years.

“I just love it,” Unoura said.

Unoura lived the first five years of her life in Canada, moved to New York for the next five, then moved to South Orange County. 

She has been married to her husband Deric Unoura for eight years. She and her husband are involved in the fishing ministry at Saddleback Church, ever since being asked to draw art for the group T-shirt. Having so much fun, she has devoted her artistic work to Christ.

Visit Saddleback Church and one can view Unoura’s artwork in the entrance of the main sanctuary, where it ties in with Pastor Rick Warren’s “Life’s Healing Choices” series of services.

Unoura’s chosen medium is intaglio. In this media, the artist takes a metal plate, puts asphalt on it, carves out the lines she wants, drops it in acid and that creates the etching.

To get the aqua tint she spray paints or “dusts” the plate, then takes liquid asphalt and does what she calls “stop out” the white spots for the look of lights and darks until she is satisfied. Each of Unoura’s prints has a Bible verse to go with it, inspired by the art.
What print made it into the national show? The etching titled “Sign of the Times.” The Bible verse that goes with it will be in the catalog. 

The media was etching, and the chosen subject matter a landscape with a cross or intersecting sign. The artist took a photo, and changed some of the details to a meaning distinct to her. Others who look at it may see something different.

“Times are going faster, some see a cross, and some see a direction,” Unoura said of the work’s meaning. “I see it all as intertwined.” 
Her favorite artist?

“I admire Rembrandt’s Etchings,” she said.  “They’re phenomenal.”

“God gifted me with a talent and I want to give it back to him and honor him with it,” Unoura said. 

Artist Collette Siegman entered one of her woodcut images, “Lifeforce6” for the LAPS show.

Siegman is a semi-retired registered nurse. She worked in nursing in Nebraska for 26 years before moving to California. 

She had always wanted to take art classes. She signed up at Saddleback and has been a student in the printmaking class with Riley for seven years.

“This is the cherry, when you’re semi-retired and can come at your work when you’re fresh,” Siegman said.

“Siegman has produced numerous art pieces over the years and she doesn’t sell them. A lot of her works have been donated to worthwhile charities. She donated an antique car series framed and matted consisting of 13 pieces to the Children’s Hospital of Orange County and other works to a grief-art-therapy silent auction for children,” as reported in a previous writing. 

Siegman lives in Laguna Woods with her husband Jack and has four sons.  She works in relief painting. Using this medium, the artist carved three patterns on three different pieces of wood: a plaid pattern, a lightning bolt and cells. She rolled ink on each piece, let it dry, and then overprinted it.

The print that made it into the national show as  “Lifeforce6,” a woodblock.

“You’re rolling ink to catch the top layer of wood that you have not carved. That’s the pattern,” Siegman said.

The subject matter was organic, biological images.

“What force created life and what did that look like,” said Siegman of the theme of the work.

“I avoid looking at the types of things I want to do. When I’m starting a different project I want it to inform me, but not influence what I’m doing,” Siegman said.