Islander Students Interpret 1960s Hollywood Movies through the Art of Printmaking

Published: May 26, 2017

Islander Students Interpret 1960s Hollywood Movies through the Art of Printmaking

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Making its debut at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi this Maymester, the course “Interpreting the Visual Culture of 1960s Hollywood,” is taking a closer look at poster art and cinema history. The collaborative course observes and compares the dynamic shift in social attitudes, cultural tastes and aesthetic strategies of the film industry during the ‘60s and was developed by two Islander faculty members – Dr. Ethan Thompson, Professor of Media Arts, and Ryan O’Malley, Associate Professor of Art.

“The 1960s is a very rich decade in cinema history”, said Thompson. “It’s a productive period to think about how film as popular culture was forced to adapt to appeal to audiences whose taste in culture, as well their social values and beliefs, where rapidly changing.”

Designed to intertwine the discipline of communication and media studies along with the art of printmaking, the class alternates between film screenings, lectures and printmaking. While creating numerous movie posters is a core element of the class, Islander students have found inspiration through the screening of classic films like “Psycho,” “Goldfinger,” “Dr. Strangelove,” “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” and other favorites.

“The translation from film to art is really unique from anything else I’ve experienced. This class allows you to not only study the art but to do it yourself,” said Catherina Garett, sophomore media production major. “It’s often challenging for me to put research and creativity together but this class adds a new element to art for me.”

The course requires no previous experience in printmaking and allows students to engage in a creative process that results in individual and collaborative works of art. It also gives students a chance to recognize the change in cinema from a decade that brought attention to issues such as civil rights, feminism, sex and war.

“This course is truly multifaceted,” said O’Malley. “Students get to see movie history through the lens of the 1960s, allowing them to view how film, as well as art, played on heavily influential events like the Vietnam War, the Cold War, emerging feminism and the counter-cultural movements.”

With 20 students currently enrolled in the course, Thompson and O’Malley are ecstatic about the success of the class. They plan to continue to offer the course each Maymester and to focus on different themes such as the 1980s, which could feature classics such as “The Shining” and “Repo Man.”  

“I’ve never taken a class that had two professors, but I like it,” said Hannah Stevens, a junior art major. “It’s awesome to me that I have someone who can help me understand the facts about the film but that I also have someone else who observes the film and helps me relate that back to my artwork. I’ve always loved classic horror films, so when I saw we were doing projects on ‘Goldfinger’ and ‘Psycho’ I knew this class was the perfect fit for me.”

The class is planning a public exhibition of the work created during the two weeks of the Maymester. The show will be held Friday, June 9, from 6-9 p.m. at Hybrid Records, located at 4233 S. Alameda St. The show is free and open to the public and RSVP's can be made via Facebook. For more information and to see students artwork, use hashtag #tamuccprintmaking on Instagram.