Fall 2013

Founders Woodcut Print Honors HSU Centennial


When art professor Sarah Whorf first started hearing about HSU’s Centennial Celebration last year, she knew she had to get involved.

So she began thinking of how she could use her printmaking skills to help commemorate the University’s first 100 years.

She decided to create an original woodcut of a recognizable Humboldt State scene. The resulting 10 5/8’’ x 7 1/2’’ piece will be used by HSU throughout the Centennial Celebration. A limited edition of no more than 100 original woodcut prints will be produced and sold, with proceeds going to the Humboldt Loyalty Fund for projects that enhance the student experience.

“I wanted to create something that was unique to my skills and that reflected who I am and what I do,” says Whorf, who specializes in woodcuts. “I also wanted it to be recognizable and reflect the natural and architectural beauty of Humboldt State.”

For inspiration, Whorf spent a day during Winter Break wandering around campus and snapping photos.

“It was the Monday after finals week, everyone was gone and the holiday star was on Founders,” she recalls. Whorf visited a number of spots, but found herself coming back to Founders Hall.

To get the full perspective, she walked all the way around the building and took photos from different angles. “The north side has a lot of really cool architecture, but I kept coming back to the west side,” she says. Finally, she decided on the most iconic view—Founders from the front, with a view of the stairs.

Whorf spent a few days refining the drawing, then carved her design into a woodblock. To create different effects, she used different carving tools and changed the angle at which she held the instruments. The areas she carved away remain white, while the un-carved areas left in relief on the block have ink rolled onto them with a brayer. The inked image on the block is then transferred to paper with pressure from a printing press to create an original woodcut print.

Whorf’s final woodcut features Founders head-on, with its familiar rhododendron bushes and a student with a backpack making the long trek up. She says it reflects the natural beauty of the campus, its 100-year history and its future moving forward.

“I tried to capture what HSU means to me,” Whorf says. “Hopefully, it will compel people to find their own inspiration.”