20 July 2015

Final Print: Earthquake


EARTHQUAKE
Watercolor woodblock print with stencils
26 x 38 inches (97 x 67 cm) on Gekko washi
edition: 2
___________________

An earthquake is caused by means of wind that be enclosed within the caves of the earth and can find no passage to break forth. 

– The New Book of Knowledge (1767)

The final addition to this print is a reproduction, carved on shina plywood, of an illustration I found at American Antiquarian Society in a small 1748 book called The History of the Holy Jesus. It was used in that book to illustrate a Bible story (the second coming perhaps – I can't recall), but many references to this illustration call it an illustration of the Boston earthquake of 1727, probably the worst earthquake ever to strike New England. This re-use of illustrations for various unrelated purposes in colonial printing was very common, and printers often copied one another's illustrations, sometimes quite poorly.


I've been using history in my work for quite a while now, but my fellowship at American Antiquarian Society this past spring deepened my relationship with history even more. It was like four weeks of time travel during which I realized once again that history is something that we stand on. We are inextricably connected to it. It lives in layers under our feet, it courses through our blood, and it is present in our thoughts and conceptions of the world. Sometimes history haunts us. Sometimes history rises up seeking justice. These little Puritans can feel the quake, but are unaware of exactly what it is that's shaking their world so.

16 July 2015

A Wind Cave

This print is a riff on a 1767 definition of earthquakes that states, An earthquake… is caused by means of Wind that be enclosed within the Caves of the Earth and can  find no passage to break forth. So I decided to make a cave full of wind. And then I decided to have some fracking going on, because everyone these days is worried that earthquakes can be caused by fracking. Which makes sense to me. But so does the idea that wind gets trapped inside the earth and has nowhere to go.


Now I have a little more carving to do — an illustration I found at American Antiquarian Society in a small 1748 book called The History of the Holy Jesus. Check out the photo below for the full title and author attribution of said book.


14 July 2015

Handprint Pictographs



Handprint pictographs, formed by either inking up one's hand and pressing it against a surface or else by placing one's hand on a surface and inking around it, are found all over the world. These pictographs are probably one of the earliest forms of printmaking. I used my own hand and my partner's and spattered the ink with a toothbrush to make the handprints above.

Next element for the print: a cave.

13 July 2015

Progress On Earthquake Print


Since my last post about this print, I've added a few layers and elements. These petroglyphs were stenciled onto the paper using a hand cut stencil with titanium buff pigment. Then I felt that the background still needed work, so I added more brown pigment — a bokashi at the bottom and some modeling of the "hills."


Now I'm ready to add some new elements.

Note added 14 Jul 2015: Petroglyph stencil based on "The Great Hunt Panel" at Nine Mile Canyon in Utah, USA.

08 July 2015

New Print: Earthquake


I've started the next print in my new Almanack series. This one starts with a 1767 definition of earthquakes:
An earthquake… is caused by means of Wind that be enclosed within the Caves of the Earth and can  find no passage to break forth.
I'm using the same pin and tab registration for this large print that I used for the previous print and again I'm printing on dry paper. Because the paper is dry, and because it's a lot of area to burnish with a baren, I'm building up the color with multiple thin washes. The photo above shows the result of laying down approximately ten layers of color. More to come…

28 June 2015

Sometimes Becomes Always I'm Married




On August 15, 2004, I got married in the state of Massachusetts to my partner of 13 years. It was an odd legal situation, so odd that our lawyer suggested that we carry our marriage license with us in our wallets whenever we left the state. For four years we were married only in Massachusetts. Then in 2008, things began to change and I started this series of woodblock prints. I thought that it would be a simple reduction print, where states would one by one be carved away until none were left. It turned out to be a little more complicated than that, as various states wrangled over whether or not to accept out of state marriages, or states like California repealed their gay marriage laws. I ended up doing a lot more re-carving than I expected. And then on Friday, suddenly, it was finished.

19 June 2015

Final Print: Wind


WIND
Watercolor woodblock print with stencils
26 x 38 inches (97 x 67 cm) on Gekko washi
edition: 2
With thanks to American Antiquarian Society for reference materials.
___________________

I finish this print with the addition of an anthropomorphized sun based on an 18th century almanac illustration and a little city taken from a 1762 woodcut whose original context I can't locate. The print began with a quote from "The New Book of Knowledge" (1767):
Wind is an Exhalation hot and dry, drawn up into the Air by the Power of the Sun, and by the weight thereof driven down.
This is an example of the science of America's founders, based on Aristotle's natural philosophy and the Aristotelian concept of "exhalations," which are ill-defined but seem to be a way of describing the invisible flow of things such as wind and water. Although some Newtonian scientific principles were available in the 1700s, historians agree that the replacement of Aristotelian cosmology with Newtonian was a long process and not complete until into the 19th century.

Also present in the imagery of this print is the fact that this spring two of my women friends – on opposite sides of the country, neither of them smokers, and within 6 weeks of each other – were diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. I couldn't make art about wind without thinking about them, without thinking about breathing, without thinking about the environmental factors that may or may not play a role in cancers and other respiratory diseases. I offer this print with love, for my friends and for our planet.

♥ Annie