17 November 2018
Water: A Tough Topic
So I'm on the theme of water and I thought at first that I would, you know, make pictures of water. But then I started thinking of artists I know who make gorgeous pictures of water (examples: Frances Ashforth and Michael Mazur) and I choked. What do I have to add to the canon of gorgeous water pictures? And what do I want to say about water anyhow?
I'm still sorting that out, but I can offer myself some partial answers. First is that I'm afraid of water. Every house I've lived in as an adult has leaked at one time or another. My house in Somerville MA leaked in a hurricane. Our roof in super-dry Taos New Mexico leaked in a rain storm. Each of the three houses we lived in in Northampton MA sprang a leak at one time or another, whether from ice dams or hurricanes or torrential rain. Water inside my house makes me exceedingly uncomfortable (said the woman who just moved to the Ocean State and found a leaky roof) and it seems to be my karma to get water inside my house. So there's that.
I also love water. I love the ocean, I love to body surf, I love lakes and streams, I love a hot bath, I like to fish, I love boats, and I love to drink a tall glass of cold water on a hot day. Large natural bodies of water relax us and offer a kind of mental balm and solace that can't be found anywhere else. Water is life. We all know that, but do we really? How for granted do we in the so-called western world take it that when we turn the faucet, the water that comes out is clean and plentiful? So now I'm back to my fear. I'm afraid of water not being clean, not being plentiful, afraid of local and state governments privatizing water which should belong to us all, afraid of more Flint Michigan type disasters, afraid of super-storms, and afraid of the water shortages that are already happening all over the globe.
It's hard to live in a place where the tap water is good and where the beaches are beautiful and to fully comprehend the tragedies that loom in our future: too much water, not enough water, and the extinctions and migrations (both human and animal) that will follow as our climate mutates. It's hard to even begin to understand how much our way of life impacts the water cycle. So maybe that's the essence of what I want to explore in this next series of prints — the notion that much of our relationship with water as human beings lies beneath our awareness.
So I'm starting another image and we'll see if it goes anywhere. I really don't have this planned out the way I planned the fire prints.
The photo at the beginning of this post shows a block ready to be cut for the first stage of the image. I jerry-rigged a funky cheap table-top easel that I got from Dick Blick (I don't think they sell this anymore) and a bench hook from McClain's to keep the block upright while I do the detail carving. Then I lay the block flat on the table for clearing.