22 June 2009

American Bible Story - Final Print

click image for larger view


Japanese woodblock (moku hanga)
Paper size: 14.75" x 16" (37.5 x 40.6 cm)
Image size: 11.625" x 13.75" (29.5 x 34.9 cm)
5 shina plywood blocks
14 hand-rubbed impressions
Paper: Nishinouchi
Edition: 21

I've been thinking for a long time about the way that present-day Americans of every political persuasion call upon "the founding fathers" to justify all sorts of theories about what America is and how Americans should behave. This quoting of early colonists has always reminded me of the practice of quoting the Bible to add legitimacy and authority to one's own ideas and feelings. Then, reading Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's narrative poem about John and Priscilla Alden, The Courtship of Miles Standish (1858), I noticed that Longfellow alluded to Bible love stories -- Ruth and Boaz, Rebecca and Isaac -- so I started to work with the idea that the early European settlers of America have become a kind of American Bible story.

The stories I included are pretty obvious -- Noah's ark, Adam and Eve, the pillar of clouds, the city on a hill. I also threw in a nod to Utamaro and his shunga prints. I had very much wanted the serpent to be saying "join or die" as it says in the original woodcut by Benjamin Franklin, but in my research I discovered that there's an artist named Justine Lai who is making extensive use of that phrase in her work. Lai is making a series of paintings that depict her having sex with each of the 44 presidents of the United States. I decided to omit the "join or die" text in my piece so as not to jump on that bandwagon.

Here's how the print looked before I added the keyblock:


And here are the color blocks as they appear after printing:



Leslie Moore said...

Fascinating to see the whole process. Quite a stage production with curtain and all. Such an intricate use of colors. I'm in awe!

starkeyart said...

Beautiful! Really like your use of color in this one as well as the definition added by the key block, but most of all I enjoy how your prints tell a story.

mizu designs said...

Incredible detail Annie! And fab use of your colour blocks to save on wood.

Anita Thomhave Simonsen said...

finally the final print....I´m thrilled about it...and i love your way of working and the reason why you want to make the print...the beautiful foot and also the small amount of hair in the armpit are wonderful details...very beautiful.....

Sharri said...

Wonderful job, Annie. In this print the key block makes all the difference. Love the detail and the emotion - you can almost see the steam rising!

Anonymous said...

Fabulous! So graceful in execution. The colours too, are spot on.

Diane Cutter said...

It's been a joy watching this print develop, Annie... It's probably my favorite so far. You just get better and better with each new one.

Oscar said...

Beautiful work, Annie, from research to execution, not to mention the political discourse.

Your process pictures as always are very instructive (if a little intimidating to my own mucking around!!)

Just wonderful, and the details, as others have said: fabulous!

Thanks for leading us on :o)

Annie B said...

Thank you for the comments. Lots of mention of the colors; are they different than colors I usually use? Or perhaps the keyblock lines make the colors look stronger or add more contrast than my prints usually have...

Kim Rosen said...

Beautiful Annie! I am always amazed by your process and all the intricacies of your line weight, color and really every detail! Wonderful job.

Maria Pinto said...

I love it!