19 October 2011


Japanese-method woodblock (moku hanga)
Image size: 35" x 21" (89 x 53 cm)
Paper size: 38.5" x 25" (98 x 63.5 cm)
2 shina plywood blocks, 1 birch block
10 hand-rubbed color layers
Paper: Shikoku White
Edition: 5

Car image is from a news photo of a burned-out automobile in Iraq.
Smoke design is adapted and enlarged from design on the back of a U.S. dollar bill. __________________________________

I meant to invoke all the money that the United States has wasted on war for the past 10 years, but as I worked with the image I began to see other meanings as well -- the money we spend to maintain our petroleum culture, the collapse of the auto industry, the costs of both war and oil relative to our environment. Maybe there's more. I'm trying not to over-think this series, trying to follow my initial self-assignment of using a dollar bill as my starting point and allow images that appeal to me to be just that -- images that appeal to me. This one felt right.

On a technical note, and this is one of the big drawbacks of publicly blogging my process, many of my fellow printmakers commented on the beautiful wood grain that appeared in the smoke after four layers of brown. I hadn't expected that, but I liked it and I was upset and conflicted when it disappeared upon adding the carved dollar design. It was a really hard decision for me to go ahead with the carved design, but I felt that without it the piece didn't say what I wanted it to say. I wanted to talk about money, not wood grain and not woodblock printing. So the wood grain is gone. And if I hadn't blogged it, you would never have known it was there… At least now I know how to control -- and not control -- wood grain. Always learning.

The other thing I'm grappling with is that I started Loaded, this series about money, on July 7 and on September 17 Occupy Wall Street began. I like to tackle topics that are timely, but this is maybe a little too timely. I feel a lot of pressure now. Yet here I am.

Here's the series so far:


Kim Rosen said...

Wonderful job Annie! I love the line work with the graphic car.

mara said...

Incredibly powerful!
Love your work more and more.

Andrew Stone said...

Definitely the right decision to cover the grain.
I was waiting for this block and watched your paisley-like smoke rising with some anticipation of the block that was waiting to come.
Very timely but then the financial melt down has been looming for a long time.
Don't pay too much attention to the news if it distracts you from where you need to go next.

Annie B said...

Thanks Kim and Mara! And Andrew, thank you for reassuring me about covering up the wood grain, and for your excellent advice about not paying attention to the news.

Kit said...

Seeing that the wood grain was visible in one stage of the work is great; and I think a good thing about blogging about process. Also demonstrates the decision-making that is at the center of art-making. Beautiful, thought-provoking images, Annie.