14 December 2008

No Original Ideas

Naoko Matsubara

It's often said that everything has already been done, and maybe it's true. I found a book at my local library called Nantucket Woodcuts illustrated by previously blogged woodcut artist Naoko Matsubara. With text by Matsubara's mentor Fritz Eichenberg, this 1967 book outlines the history of Nantucket Island, located just a few miles off the coast of what was once the Plymouth Colony of Massachusetts.

Looking at Matsubara's carvings, I can see that she referenced some of the old colonial woodcuts that I've been looking at too. The translation is distinctly Matsubara's, though, with her loose and expressive cutting.

Coming across this work makes me feel a bit daunted, but hopefully whatever prints I make about the Mayflower pilgrims will have my own peculiar twist on them just as Matsubara's prints have her mark on them.


d. moll, l.ac. said...

Wow, her waves are so amazing. I don't think I could do something that loose (though it would probably be good to try). It is an interesting problem, this there not being anything new, like we are just recycling images through our own personal kalidoscope. OTOH your boats are quite different then Matsubara's because of their setting and the feeling you created........Carve away be not daunted :~)

Sharri said...

Very interesting project and the idea is fascinating. Have you read "Lies My Teacher Taught Me" as part of your research on the Plymouth colony? I'm in the middle of the first Thanksgiving, now. Quite different than what I recall from US History classes!

Steve Emery said...

I sometimes look at the work of other artists and feel that same sinking feeling. That, "What do I have to offer?" feeling.

But I'm with d.moll, l.ac. - your images are quite different, and uniquely your own. And while there is much to admire in that loose cutting of Matsubara, I somehow feel the more complex and gradual approach you are taking deeply suits the subject (or the subjects). It creates a kind of tranquility in the images which speaks of the promise they must have held to on their voyage - the hope that kept them going.

Annie B said...

Thanks for your comments. That not-good-enough feeling when looking at other artists' work can be a problem. But looking at other people's work can also be inspiring and just plain fun. I try to only look at other people's work when I'm in a good mood.
Sharri, thanks for the book suggestion. This project will no doubt swing in that direction eventually.