25 February 2015

A Real Fake: Mica and Magical Objects

Some objects have a certain aura that might be described as magical or somehow otherworldly, and some objects of that nature are art objects. I think some magical art objects, for example The Mona Lisa, acquire their power through accretion and historicity. Some acquire magical qualities through the activites, real or imagined, of the artist – the works of Agnes Martin, say, who lived as a recluse and who is thought of as a kind of mystic. Other art objects, like Warhol works for instance, acquire at least some of their magical properties through their commercial value. And some magical art objects are magical because of the spiritual/religious meanings they carry. I've been thinking about this a lot as I've worked on my print of the Prophet Muhammad. I've especially been grappling with the question of whether or not the magical properties attributed to the original miniature that I'm copying would or could transfer to my reproduction.

I'm deviating from the original miniature quite a bit in this next step in the process as I add gold-colored mica to the flame-halo around the Prophet's head. This is a distinctly Japanese technique, where a glue of some kind (I used rice paste) is printed onto the paper and then mica powder is sprinkled on and lightly brushed. Here are photos of my mica application in process.

Rice paste is applied to the block with a regular te-bake (hand brush) and the impression is taken with the baren.
Immediately after the paper is removed from the block, mica powder is sprinkled on and a soft brush is used to cover the glue with the mica and brush away the excess.
Sheen of mica seen in glancing light.

If you'd like to see a video of the process, check out a demo by Keiji Shinohara at this web site. (Note: Click Enter Site, then Techniques, then Kira Zuri (Mica Technique)).

My studio is full of magical objects; magical because of what they mean to me and remind me of. Here are a few of them.

I do so much research in my work, I was drawn to this little scholarly Buddha.
Sarasvati, Hindu goddess of knowledge, music and the arts, wearing a rosary I made.
Zuni fetishes I collected while I lived in New Mexico: horse, bear, fox and snake.
Nataraj (Dancing Shiva), the primal energy of God, whose dance is both creative and destructive.


Elizabeth Busey said...

Loved the application of mica. I've been working with gold leaf, which I don't really like. Do you think the glue could be very lightly applied just to the paper? (I used a needle-nosed applicator with a squeeze bottle.)
I've loved the evolution of this print - -and the questions it inspires.

Annie B said...

Hi Elizabeth. Probably you could apply glue directly to the paper with a soft brush. It would be worth a try.