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Senior Artist Creates Printmaking Exhibit Inspired by Biology Classes

Walk through Chiara Sarter’s bedroom, and you will encounter another door that leads to a screened-in porch-like space with the heat of Kalamazoo’s spring seeping through the windows. The floors are covered with rolled up cardboard, sheets of paper, and scraps of projects past. The room will be where Sarter primarily works on her art now that it is warm enough to do so, replacing her previous workspace of the printmaking studio in the Fine Arts Building where she worked on her Senior Individualized Project during the winter quarter.

This project, Sarter says, started as an “exploration of process.”

“I knew I really liked printmaking, and I had done papercutting before,” the artist, who grew up in Santa Rose, Calif., says. “I really liked the idea of using papercutting—which is two-dimensional—to make a three-dimensional space because of the shadows it cast, but I hadn’t really put the two together.”

Stick&Entrance copy

But in her one-unit SIP with advisor Tom Rice, Professor of Art, Sarter had the opportunity to put the techniques together as well as incorporate her interest in biology, which she is majoring in, and emphasize the use of shadows.

“I liked biology a lot, [and] I liked the outdoor world a lot, so I wanted to focus—instead of on geometric shapes and hard edges—[on] really organic shapes and plants,” Sarter says and adds that her project is an iteration about evolution. “[It’s] about how everything is changing, and evolutions are influencing new things…everything is existing at once even as everything is cycling around.”


Sarter attended Santa Rose High School where she did a program entitled ArtQuest entailing a four-year curriculum focused on art. Two of her grandparents are working artists, and art, she says, has always been important to her family. Sarter has, in some ways, taken after her grandparents by spending her summers doing murals and working on public art.

“It’s where most of my money has come from up to this point,” Sarter says.

For her SIP, she worked in the printmaking studio for ten to twelve hours a day. While carving blocks and imprinting them with ink onto paper and cutting off bits of printed image to create shadows, she would listen to podcasts and television shows she says she doesn’t really care about. She would sit for hours at a time, or lay on the floor while working on larger projects.

Between the hours she spent in the studio, Sarter was also taking two of her three upper-level biology classes in order to graduate early—which she will be doing this June after three years at Kalamazoo College. She says the biology classes provided great content for her SIP.


“I was very inspired by drawing the brain, looking at the brain, and the interconnectedness of the brain,” Sarter says. “There are a lot of things I wouldn’t know at all if it weren’t for biology… I have a list of pieces I haven’t done yet…that have to do with concepts I read about for class.”

Sarter’s project, which was recently exhibited in the FAB, will be presented at a gallery in Detroit this June alongside more material she hopes to create while auditing a mold-making class this quarter. After graduation, she hopes to continue with her art, but for now, she can be found with scissors in hand, surrounded by prints in the small porch that hangs off her bedroom.

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Senior Artist Creates Printmaking Exhibit Inspired by Biology Classes