and truly, I did not anticipate the reaction our gyotaku would get from the fifth and sixth graders. I started out reminding them that in Japanese culture almost EVERYthing can be an art. And printing in Japan was a long-established art, as we had already experience with our lino block prints. Japan is surrounded by ocean, so it has a serious fisherman tradition also. So is it surprising that something that began as a way to record your great catch long before the Kodak became a beautiful fine art? I thought not.
So when I pulled out our whole semi-frozen tilapia, why were the kids shocked? Did they think I would practice fish printing with potatoes? (And let me add that the difficulty of acquiring that fish in the midst of the heartland of America was a surprise to me). We watched a video of someone printing a fish, and they were totally grossed out. Ewwwww!
Excuse me?! I picked this art because this class 80% male! Do you not fish, boy students? What do boys do nowadays?!
When we daubed ink over our fish, pulling out the fins, the female part of the class was cool as cucumbers. A couple of boys weren’t touching my fish. It was certainly memorable!! This was my first time printing a fish, and I would have loved more time and paper to perfect our technique. Our prints show just gloppy ink in places, and we seriously should have had a Qtip to clean the eye of ink, rather than tissue. Sometimes making do doesn’t work. We will go over our fish prints with Sharpie to make a live eye before I mount these for the art show, but I wanted to to share now.