SALISBURY – Seven students from Alex Tobiassen’s art class joined with Salisbury artist Erick Sahler Wednesday as he added the remaining layers of a silk screen print he created for Pocomoke High School.
The event coincided with National Arts in Education Week, which falls on the second week of each September.
The week is a reminder and movement to bring various art forms back into academic subjects.
The students got to ask questions, discuss techniques and watch Sahler print the last layers onto the papers.
The artwork contained an image of the high school stadium and field with a bright star in the sky, in honor of former field hockey coach Susan Pusey.
The 50 screen prints he made for the school, along with t-shirts containing a rendition of the image, will be sold to support various school programs.
Sahler and the high school partnered together on this project at the end of last year, in an effort to give the art students a chance to witness an artist at work.
“This is the first time we’ve ever visited an artist in their studio,” Tobiassen says. “I think it is cool for the kids to see a practicing artist and how they can take their passion and make it into a career that’s viable and accessible.”
Sahler, a nationally recognized artisan, began making illustrations at the age of 16. From there, he took his skills and got a high school job working for a T-shirt printing business in Salisbury.
Before starting his business in 2011, Sahler worked as a managing editor at a local newspaper.
However, the economic downturn and his love of commercial art led him to his next venture.
“Whatever you like to do, find somebody who does it well,” Sahler tells the students. “I bet they’ll be willing to share with you.”
Each one of Sahler’s prints always contains images of Eastern Shore locations and iconic landmarks.
Sahler says he has done designs for the City of Pocomoke before, but has never worked with the high school.
Sahler says his inspiration for the picture came to him after many meetings with Principal Annette Wallace and Tobiassen.
Instead of creating an image of the school, Sahler says he focused on the sports field, where many in the community gather for weekly games.
Images of the field and stadium were sketched on a computer program one layer at a time.
The stars and sky, followed by the stadium and its fans, were printed onto the paper one color at a time.
Sahler says he could only add about two colors a day.
Students then witnessed Sahler add one of the final colors, a vibrant blue, to the prints. No one image of the field was like the other, making each print a unique piece.
Money raised from the print and T-shirt sales will go toward the entire school, according to administrative support staff member Susan Redden.
“We make sure everybody always gets taken care of in our schools and nobody wants for anything,” Redden says. “We will definitely use part of the money to support Alex’s program and support these students with anything they need.”
Among the students, one wants to be an art educator. The other wants to be a graphic novelist.
“About half of them want to go on to pursue art, whether it is art education or actually being a practicing artis,” Tobiassen says.
She and her students each walked away with their own print of the stadium, along with a better appreciation for a unique form of printed art.