Traveling artist educates students about woodcutting
By Albert Shelby
September 16, 2012
Sean Starwars has arguably one of the coolest last names of all times. But that’s not all that stands out. Starwars is a master of woodcutting.
Starwars has been doing woodcuts and printmaking for 20 years now, and his purpose for coming to Missouri Western on Sept. 10 was to produce a multicolored woodcut with Western art professor Geo Sipp and work with students on campus. He stayed for four days and spent most of his time woodcutting and speaking with students.
Starwars and Sipp have been friends for about 10 years and felt he should drop in for a visit.
“I have been Facebook friends with Sipp for a number of years now,” Starwars said. “So I just figured that now was the time to do it.”
Starwars is an art teacher at Hattiesburg High School in Hattiesburg, Miss. His school has been very flexible with letting him do visits to different schools around the country.
“Sipp just told me to do whatever I wanted to do,” Starwars said. “So I have been able to just cut all day and talk to some students that are interested. I love to do demonstrations.”
Woodcutting may not be one of the more-known types of art, but that happens to be the reason Starwars enjoys it so much. He feels that it’s something that takes a lot of energy, which he happens to always have.
“I really like the feeling of cutting into the wood with the chisels and sharp tools,” Starwars said. “There’s a resistance when you cut into that wood because it’s forcing back against you. So you really have to put some energy in it.”
He stated that he drinks a lot of Mountain Dew so he is always ready work and make new art. Painting was something that he took up but he feels that painting is more of a calm style of art to him.
“Cutting into that wood fights back,” Starwars said. “I like to paint, but it’s very meditative. With woodcutting, you’re really fighting it.”
Sipp stated that the printmaking community is rather small and if you don’t know a person personally, you know them from the art work they put out.
“I respect Starwars,” Sipp said. “His work is loose, energetic and fun. I respect the fact that he is a worker that just continues to make more and more prints.”
Sipp said that Starwars poster work is incredible as well. He feels that it’s the type of art that everyone can respond to.
One of the things that Starwars wanted students on campus to take away from his visit is that there’s more forms of art out there that are contemporary uses because of the digital era that we are in.
“In order to give something that human touch, even in that digital world, some of those things come from woodcutting. I like the fact that I can take my woodcutting piece with me without having to plug it in an outlet.”
Art education major Kat Furlong loved the visit from Starwars and said that his art was great. She felt that he was a quick-paced type of guy and was always ready to accomplish something.
“I learned how to be confident with my work,” Furlong said. “I had to learn that you have to have fun with art and let loose. I want to be an art teacher some day so I wanted some pointers on that as well.”
As for Starwars, he said he will continue to make more woodcutting pieces as well as t-shirts and posters.
Starwars ended his visit by stating that students should really take advantage of artwork like woodcutting because it helps you expand your knowledge in art.
“You guys use a lot of computers for art now,” Starwars said. “Sometimes art does need that human touch, and there are other styles out there that can get it done.”