W h a t i s a S e r i g r a p h?
Serigraphy is a fine art, color stencil printmaking process in which special paint is forced through a fine screen onto the paper beneath. Areas which do not print are blocked in each of the stencil screens. A sheet of high quality, archival paper is first inserted under the screen and special paint poured along the edge of the frame. A squeegee is then pulled from back to front, producing a direct transfer of the image from screen to paper. A separate stencil is required for each color in each serigraph.
The seeming simplicity of Fermin's work, done mostly in three to five colors, belies the complexity of the process, which involves from thirty to forty hues of each of those colors to produce the subtle gradations. This requires a like number of pulls on his screen. A finished image can contain well over 100 pulls.
The screen materials most commonly used in the process are fine silk bolting cloth, nylon or polyester stretched over a wooden frame. In the studio, the frame that holds each screen is hinged to a flat bed or table on which the paper is placed. A simple prop bar, called a butterfly, keeps the screen raised above the bed while the printed artwork is removed and fresh paper is inserted. The prop bar drops by its own weight when the screen is lifted and is moved aside when the serigrapher is ready to pull another piece in the edition.
The use of silkscreen as a modern artist medium began in 1938 when a group of New York artists, under the auspices of the Federal Art Project, experimented with silkscreening...fully developing its potential. This group coined the term "serigraphy" and later formed the nucleus of the National Serigraph Society, which actively promoted the graphic form for twenty years. Among those active in the development of serigraphy were Anthony Velonis, who inspired the original project, and Carl Zigrossa, an art critic, who named the group.
In the 1960s, Pop Art took serigraphy to a new level of sophistication. Innovators such as Andy Warhol, Tom Wesselmann, Robert Raushenburg, and others, began experimenting in color and textures unavailable in other mediums. Printmaking ranks with painting, sculpture, and drawing as an important medium by which artists express themselves.