21 November 2010

Printing Big In My New Studio


This Israel/Palestine print I'm working on is the first large print I've done in my new house. The paper size is 19 x 26 inches (a half sheet of washi) and the studio in my new house is smaller than my last space, so I decided I needed some extra surface area to print these comfortably. Found the little 4-foot folding table above at Staples to do the job. I like it because I can set it up when I need it, but it's easy to fold and store behind the door.

Sometimes I carve all or most of the blocks at once and then do all of the printing at once, but sometimes I work back and forth more between carving and printing. In this case I'll be doing some reduction work on some of these blocks, so that means carving, printing, carving some more and printing some more, all on the same blocks. I began by carving two blocks that are basically opposites of each other, like jigsaw puzzle pieces.


These two blocks define the areas of Israel and Palestine that are divided by the Separation Barrier, areas which are in fact a lot like a jigsaw puzzle. I printed the Palestinian territories in a yellow/tan color:


and then I printed the Israeli territories in blue:


You can see clearly the white outlines of some of the "characters" I'll be adding to the print in the future. I'll tell you about them later, as they appear on the "stage."

On top of these two colors I added a layer of gray just to tone it down. I took a photo, but you can't really see the difference that the gray makes in my not-very-consistent photographs. Trust me, though, an overprinting of gray helps blend and tone down colors.

My next step is to carve each of these blocks a little more. Rather than land features, I'll be showing something more like population densities in each of these areas. But I doubt that I'll make much progress before the Thanksgiving holiday, so see you next week. Safe travels.

19 November 2010

First the Land

Israel and Palestine. Oh, where to begin.

As with all of the prints in this series about fences and walls, I begin with the land. I wanted to find a spot along the Separation Fence that would tell the story in a nutshell, so first I went to Google maps to see if the fence is visible in satellite photos. You bet it is!

A small portion of Israel's Separation Wall (Google maps)

On Google maps I virtually floated above the wall, tracking it northward from Jerusalem until I found an area that was particularly perplexing. It was the area around a Palestinian city called Qalqiliya where the newly built wall quite clearly creates "peninsulas" of Palestinian land that for all intents and purposes trap the people inside. Here's what I saw (the squiggly grey line that runs through the center of the image is the wall):


I wanted to confirm that this was really what was going on there, so I looked for maps of the wall online. I found a beautiful detailed PDF map from 2008 at B'Tselem.org. Here's the portion that roughly corresponds to the Google view I had captured, confirming the path of the wall there:

B'Tselem - Map of the Separation Barrier in the West Bank - February 2008

Here's what the Separation Wall looks like from the ground:


Now that's a wall!

This week I carved a couple of blocks just to define these two areas that are separated by the wall and I started printing yesterday. I'll fill you in on that process next week.

17 November 2010

Print Week NY 2010 - Lighthouse Fair

Back to some reporting on my visit to NY Print Week. This year marked the first "Fine Print and Drawing Fair at Lighthouse International," an event that I had some trouble finding out about. I was first tipped off by a mention from a friend, but when I googled "Lighthouse print fair" the actual web site for the event didn't come up until page three. (The SEO problems seem to be partly because the event doesn't have its own URL and partly because the information is a jpeg of the announcement rather than html code that would allow search engines to pick up the words.) This fair is apparently a breakaway from the IFPDA group, as you can read here on the Annex Galleries web site.

Chatterboxing by Hibiki Miyazaki
At any rate, it's too bad that the publicity was less than stellar, because the fair had some fine exhibitors.

First was my all-time favorite exhibitor, Davidson Galleries of Seattle. It was nice to see an etching by Hibiki Miyazaki (right), whose work I know only from online.

I spent a long time at the Annex Galleries' booth poring over their huge collection of color woodcuts spanning many years and many artists. I was amazed to see (and have the opportunity to touch!) some very rare prints by Gustave Baumann. I also appreciated being introduced to the woodcuts of Sylvia Solochek Walters (below). Walters was chair of the art department at San Francisco State University for many years and now serves on the Board of the Kala Art Institute in Berkeley CA.
The Road Is Closed by Sylvia Solochek Walters
Unfortunately, by the time I finished perusing the Annex Galleries it was already way past lunch time and I still had the entire IFPDA Armory show to see so I gave short shrift to the rest of the Lighthouse Fair. Please leave a comment if you went to Print Week and let me know if you made it to Lighthouse. I'm curious to hear what others thought.

11 November 2010

Print Fair North!

The past two days of my studio time have been devoted to preparing for "Print Fair North," the annual open studio sale at Zea Mays Printmaking in Florence, Massachusetts (just outside of Northampton). There will be hundreds of prints by over 30 artists in all price ranges. I've prepared about 50 prints for the sale, most from editions but also some experimental one-of-a-kind prints and proofs. I'll also have copies of the We Are Pilgrims book for sale.

If you come to western Mass. for Print Fair North, be prepared to make a day of it. The building where Zea Mays is located, the Arts and Industry Building, houses over 100 artist's studios and small businesses and has a regional reputation as the workspace of some of the area's most creative people. Print Fair North coincides with the Arts and Industry Building's giant Open Studios event. It's a chance to visit dozens of artist's studios in the building as well as this fantastic print fair. Hope to see you there!

Nov 13-14, 2010
10:00 am - 5:00 pm

Zea Mays Printmaking
Arts and Industry Building
221 Pine Street, Studio 320
Florence MA

08 November 2010

Print Week NY 2010 - EAB Fair

I'm back from my whirlwind 14-hour trip to New York to see this year's Print Week offerings, or at least as many as I could cram into that short amount of time. This year there was a new fair, the "Lighthouse" Fine Print and Drawing Fair, in addition to the EAB (Editions/Artist's Books) Fair and the venerable (20 years!) IFPDA Print Fair at the Armory. Each of the fairs had its own personality and emphasis, which made for an interesting day. I'll look at each fair in its own post over the next few days.

My first stop was the EAB (Editions/Artist's Books) Fair in Chelsea. Of the three print fairs, this one is the broadest. It's kind of a hybrid event featuring artist's books, two-dimensional prints and works on paper, three-dimensional multiples, small installations, and even some video. It's definitely the most contemporary and hip of the three fairs and the most accessible with its free admission. Here are a few exhibitors that were highlights for me.

"Grass 2.2" moku hanga by Mike Lyon, 22.5 x 72 inches
I was happy to see Center for Contemporary Printmaking from Connecticut. CCP, the self-described "only nonprofit organization between New York City and Boston solely dedicated to the art of the print," is located fairly close to where I live, but shamefully I've not made it there yet for a visit. I was excited to see that CCP was showing Mike Lyon's moku hanga print "Grass 2.2" (shown above). Mike has been a virtual friend on various printmaking web sites for several years but I've never seen his work in real life so it was a treat. I was surprised when the CCP representative who I spoke with didn't know that Mike cuts his large blocks with a computer-controlled router. That fact, to me, is one of the most interesting aspects of Mike's work -- he designed, built and programmed the carving router and also designed and built a very large-bed press with a special system to deliver the large sheets dampened paper to the bed. This equipment is quite amazing in its own right.

"Untitled" by Jiha Moon
I've been interested in the artist Jiha Moon ever since I had the opportunity to watch her work with master printer Peter Pettingill at Smith College a couple of years ago, so when I saw a piece that looked like her work at the Landfall Press booth I had to stop and investigate. The recently completed print, shown at right, is more understated than some of Moon's other work and I really like it. The white pieces of paper you see at the top are fortune cookie fortunes. I'm not sure if this is an etching or a lithograph. Anyone know?

Unlike some exhibitors at the other fairs, representatives at the EAB Fair seemed willing and in fact eager to talk with just about everyone who was passing through. I had a nice conversation with a man who was selling Esopus magazine. Esopus is an arts magazine published twice a year that features fresh work from a wide range of creatives, themed for each issue. A sampling of fiction, poetry, visual essays, interviews, etc. can be found in each issue, plus a themed CD of new music. I bought a subscription!

"Settlements" by Serena Perrone
I also enjoyed some time at the Cade Tompkins Editions booth. Cade Tompkins is an art dealer who also represents RISD Editions, the Rhode Island School of Design's visiting artist’s program in the Printmaking Department. At the booth I saw work by Daniel Heyman as well as Serena Perrone's wonderful etching plus moku hanga piece shown above, printed by Ningyo Editions.

"I Am Living…" by Graham Gillmore
I want to note one other work, a screenprint by Graham Gillmore. The Dorfman Projects booth displayed four or five different versions of this piece, each with a different hand-painted background, and there was something quite heart-wrenching about the sentiment expressed. If you're an artist, you can't read these words without irony, yet you also know that these same words are held deep in an artist's heart where they ring with complete earnestness. I found myself deeply touched by that dichotomy.

Next I'll blog about the new "Lighthouse" Fair.

02 November 2010

The Fine Print about a New Print

In 2008 I started a series of prints about fences and walls -- places, usually at international borders, where people have built structures designed to keep other people out. I started with the border fence being constructed at the U.S. / Mexico border and then I went on to complete a print about the Great Wall in China (both shown below).

The next print I had planned for the series was the separation barrier between Israel and Palestine, but I began to feel afraid of tackling such a huge and volatile topic. So I decided that I needed to stick closer to home, to work with material that I know in my bones and that I feel "qualified" to critique. I spent the next 2 years making the 15 Pilgrim prints.

Now I feel ready to tackle Israel/Palestine. But first some caveats. It may sound silly to say this, but I want to be clear that a single print can not no how no way even begin to encompass the complexity and the magnitude of the Arab/Israeli conflict. I am a non-Jew, a 21st century American gentile woman with only a passing understanding of the complex history of the Jewish people. There's a lot I don't know.

What I do know is this. I know the Bible from a childhood spent reading it. I know the history of World War II mostly through my father, who fought for 3 years in Europe. And I know my American Jewish friends, some of whom call themselves Zionist but most of whom do not. Most of all I know my own heart. So this print will reflect me and my heart's feelings about Israel's separation barrier. I am an artist, not a reporter and not a historian.

But this print can't be made without working with historical material. There is probably no area in the world with a deeper history than the area we now call Israel/Palestine. It has been settled continuously for tens of thousands of years, archeologists have found remains of very early human and Neanderthal creatures, and it is one of the oldest sites of agricultural activity in the world.

May my print honor both the sacredness of this land and the tragedy of this conflict.