Art Students’ Museum Dreams Take Flight at SFO

Author: Madeleine Lester, College of Liberal & Creative Arts
May 5, 2021
Romer Gwen Toward Amour Propre
Photo Credit: Gwen Romer and Susan Belau/SF State

“Toward Amour-Propre” by Gwen Romer. 2020. Monoprint, ink on paper. Courtesy of the artist and Susan Belau/SF State.


Students in an upper-division San Francisco State University course have already achieved an artist’s lifelong dream: to have their work displayed in a museum. Thirty-eight works created in Associate Professor of Art Susan Belau’s monoprinting class will be on display at an SFO Museum exhibition called “Impressions in Isolation: Monoprints from SFSU” through June 29.

To create a monoprint, ink is applied to a surface and transferred onto paper —a technique that traditionally requires specialized equipment such as presses, rollers and special inks. Since Belau’s Intermediate Printmaking Workshop course was being taught remotely this semester, she had to decide which kinds of materials made sense for students to use at home. For example, she sent students nontoxic inks that could be cleaned with water, as well as other tools that could be shipped easily. Most students also had limited space at home, forcing them to work alone and on a smaller scale to fit their makeshift studios.

“Students learn so much by working in a shared space where they can see their classmates working at the same time,” Belau said, “so it takes a lot of emotional strength, stubbornness and determination to start something on your own without having a shared energy.”

Nevertheless, Belau’s students maintained their motivation and produced museum-caliber work — literally. SFO Museum presents rotating exhibitions on a wide variety of subjects and interactive play areas throughout the terminals of the San Francisco International Airport. “Impressions in Isolation” is featured in Harvey Milk Terminal 1, in a gallery dedicated to student art from Bay Area schools and nonprofit organizations.

Having work displayed in such a visible space is a major triumph for many undergraduates, Belau says. Art major Taima Dugan, one of Belau’s monoprinting students, agrees.

“Having my work on display [is] a big step for me in entering the art world and being seen by others,” Dugan said. “It made me feel like a more official artist.”

“Impressions in Isolation” is free and open to the public (and a plane ticket isn’t needed to visit it). Learn more on the SFO Museum website.