05 December 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)
1 shina plywood block, 2 birch blocks
10 hand-rubbed color layers
Paper: Shikoku White
Edition: 7

Pyramid and eye are enlarged from the back of a U.S. dollar bill.
Figure is from a found 1880 etching of migrant workers in a field. __________________________________

The pyramid image found on the back of the U.S. dollar bill is part of the Great Seal of the U.S. and is, as my friend Mary so aptly put it the other day, "kind of strange." The eye, which I find especially odd, is said to indicate that God, or Providence, favors the U.S. enterprise and will watch over it.

I moved the eye farther away from the bottom portion of the pyramid and inserted a small human figure between the two to give the meaning a different twist. The figure is from an 1880 etching I found of a group of African American migrant workers in a cotton field, their labors watched over with care by a white man.

I love the posture of this figure. To me the man looks weary, as if he just arrived at the top of the 13 steps, and he seems to be in the act of turning towards the eye, maybe just realizing that he's not going to get there from where he is. The way he's holding his right arm almost looks to me as if he's about to raise it, in defiance or in frustration. Even though the drawing is from 1880, the pose looks modern to me and it feels like an accurate posture for expressing the feeling you can have when you've worked really hard for something and fallen short. Or the just-waking-up feeling embodied in the Occupy Wall Street movement.

The sky and star trails were very difficult to print, so the sky is a little different in every one of this edition of seven. I guess I'm still nowhere near being a master printer, but I sure enjoy making these prints. Hope you enjoy them too.


betsy best-spadaro said...

Hi Annie! This is wonderful. I love the intricate carving and your words lend such meaning to the work. Thanks for sharing!

alison said...

I really enjoy your prints and you have such a unique way of marrying different ideas for a complete image. He looked to me at first as if was bending to pick something up but I can also see his action as you do. Your source of material is interesting so I have looked at our money with a bit more interest and wondered what you would do with it.

Victoria said...

I love the ambiguity of the image; it leaves room for the viewer to offer additional layers of interpretation. One of the ways I see it is that the figure is saying, "I climbed all the way up here and all I found was another overseer."
As usual, your working is both engaging and deeply instructive. Thank you.

Kim Rosen said...

wonderful as always!

Jan said...

I think some of this imagery is Masonic, I seem to remember an eye with rays and a pyramid. Perhaps others will know more.

Katka said...

Wow Annie! Another marvellous print!

And a moment of synchronicity: I just read Joseph Campbell`s intriguing explication of the symbolism behind the pyramid on your dollar bill in his `Power of Myth` a few days ago and here it is...

erasercarver said...

Such a wonderful image. I've really enjoyed watching the progress. The sky and stars are amazing. An image to think upon.

Unknown said...

that is strange...fascinating - strange and strangely fascinating :)

Leslie Moore said...

Fabulous, Annie! I had to get a dollar bill out to compare. I love all the intricate detail on your pyramid and the baleful eye. As always, I'm in awe!