23 December 2009
It's Coming On Christmas
I'm starting work on the central area now. This will be an enlarged view of a smallpox virus (variola). I'll be doing this area with the reduction method using a single block for three different impressions.
Smallpox is a highly contagious disease that killed an estimated 400,000 Europeans per year during the 18th century and an unknown number in the centuries before. Even as recently as the 20th century, it is estimated that smallpox was responsible for 300–500 million deaths worldwide. After successful vaccination campaigns throughout the 20th century, the WHO certified the eradication of smallpox in December 1979. To this day, smallpox is the only human infectious disease to have been completely eradicated.
In later posts I'll touch on the role smallpox played in the colonization of America. But for today, I'll simply note that this print continues to have a kind of Christmas-y feel to it. The latest additions make it look kind of like a scary wreath:
If you like Joni Mitchell, then you probably noticed that the title of this post is from her song "River." Here's a YouTube video of Joni singing "River" in a live performance at the Royal Albert Hall, nine years before the eradication of smallpox.
Merry Christmas, everyone.