Medieval Nightmares (2016), 13.5×20″ each, encaustic collage on paper.
This series is made from individual folio pages from the book European Brasses by A.C. Bouquet and Michael Waring, published by Frederick Praeger Publishers in 1967. Brasses are funerary or memorial effigies made by incising portrait images into a large sheet of metal made from a combination of cooper and zinc (called latten). They were popular from the 11th – 14th centuries in Northern central Europe, especially Flanders, Germany and France.
The brasses were permanently installed in churches and mausoleums and feature a variety of personages (vicars, church patrons, wealthy merchants, etc. and their families). I have combined these memorials that sought to assure glory for the afterlife with images of planets and solar system in a sort of mash-up of old and new cosmos.
Three of these nasties so far. All feature critters with whom you would not want to share your bed.
The Desert (Revolt in the Desert) (2014), book pages, tea, collage on paper, 72 x 42”
This collage is made from an Arabic-language version of TS Lawrence’s account of Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire. The pages were torn apart, steeped in tea, dried in sunlight, and glued willy-nilly on watercolor paper. The small image of Sir Lawrence in full Bedouin attire is from the photographic illustrations. Oddly, I found an edition of this work in Arabic and in Hebrew only a few weeks apart in two different Oregon bookstores.
In homage to the Super Panavision 70 mm format of Alexander Korda’s 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia, this collage is long and narrow to mimic the image aspect ratio of 2.20:1 and the vastness of a desert horizon.
War: first, one hopes to win; then one expects the enemy to lose; then, one is satisfied that he too is suffering; in the end, one is surprised that everyone has lost.
Karl Kraus, Die Fackel, Oct. 19, 1917
Mars, mein lieben (2014) is an encaustic pentaptych with embedded collage and image transfer. Here I have used maps of the planet Mars with re-purposed images from Hilter youth propaganda to reflect on the duplicitous romanticism of war. 25 x 68 inches total.
This is a gift for some sailor friends who helped keep the wind in my sails this past year. Seven Seas is made from a copy of Peter Freuchen’s Book of the Seven Seas published by Simon & Schuster in 1957. Folding books is a lot like crochet or knitting: you get in a groove and the action becomes very meditative.
Seven Seas (2013) 9.5×13 inches. Folded book mounted on board.
… A situation in which it’s not just another’s languages that we don’t understand but not even our own. — Emre Kertesz, from Dossier K.
Coverlet: A Lover’s Discourse (2013). 54×82″ Book pages, quilt batting, cotton fabric, thread, and satin binding tape.
The idea for a quilted coverlet simmered for weeks before I could come up with a method to actually make it work. This coverlet is made from the pages of Fragments d’un discours amoureux ( or A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments) by Roland Barthes. I used a French edition published in 1978 by Editions du Seuil, Paris. It looks identical to my own copy in English, including the multiple fonts used for headers, footnotes, and author references used throughout.
The pages are soft and feel like flannel. I carefully crumpled each page until the paper was pliable and flexible enough to sew together. I learned this method as a child in Texas making “Indian clothes” from brown paper grocery bags. The rigid paper bag gets more flexible as it is repeatedly crumpled and distressed, creating a leather-like fabric. The quilted pages are sewn in straight rows of rectangles (trimmed minimally) from the original pages. There is a felt layer and cotton batting between the readable surface and the cotton backing. The edges are trimmed with blanket binding tape.
Two details show the texture of the pages.
A Lover’s Discourse is an amazing text –smart, funny, and wildly associative– that created a deep impression on my 20s. The study (and creative application) of semiotics and representation were just beginning to percolate (in English, at least) and there was a huge ocean of theoretical ground to cover. Wading into that ocean was to be steeped in the confluences of feminism, reflexivity, representation, and language theory. Barthes is, to my mind, one of the more generous in this era of radical thinkers. His later focus on the pleasures of the text and the role of the reader in the ultimate meaning of a work still ring true for me.
Barthes lived with his mother for much of his adult life, and wrote extensively about mourning her after her death (See Mourning Diary) . He continued to live in her house until his own death a few years later. This coverlet is a love letter to Mr. Barthes, and would have graciously fit his twin-sized bed.
Paradiso (2013) 39×50 inches, book pages and gold paint on paper.
This piece is a sister to Inferno, but celebrates the text with a constellation of gold spots. As with the other books in Dante’s Divine Comedy, circles play a central role in Paradiso (Heaven, or Paradise). Concepts of orbiting, traveling, tunneling, and returning are evoked over and over, but in the Paradiso story, this journey is made with the lovely Beatrice who schools Dante in all manner of cosmic and celestial phenomena. There are parallels to a radical reading of Adam and Lilith, whereby Lilith knows more than Adam about the world around them. In this story, Beatrice confirms the wonder and majesty of the world as a divine creation, while introducing many concepts of the medieval science of the times.
This piece was made from a small bilingual copy (Italian-English) titled The Paradiso of Dante Alighieri and published by J. M. Dent & Sons in London, 1958, so the entire text in Italian is visible.
Seems like I cannot avoid Purgatorio at this point…
Detail of small center portion for scale:
Mrs Dalloway (View of the Ouse in Daylight) and Mrs Dalloway (View of the Ouse in Moonlight), (2013) each panel 50″x38″. Watercolor and book pages on paper.
This diptych was created out of the text of Virginia Woolf’s dazzling short novel, Mrs Dalloway , originally published in London in 1925. The two panels are subtitled View of the Ouse in Daylight (yellow) and View of the Ouse in Moonlight (blue), with daylight referencing Clarissa and moonlight referencing Septimus, two of the central characters/voices of the novel. Clarissa and Septimus create an axis on which the story revolves, and a counterpoint of tension around questions of sanity, personal happiness, and our ability to control the course of our own lives, even through a single day.
The flow of the novel is truly brilliant; each character woven into the narrative through stream of consciousness observations, reflecting and refracting points of view, while moving multiple characters onward, each on a path of self-definition.
The “underlayer” of each panel is a watercolor view of the River Ouse, the Sussex river in which Woolf committed suicide in 1941. The “overlayer” is created from the pages of two editions of Mrs Dalloway. Each page was cut individually into an interlocking pattern reminiscent of late 19th century wallpaper patterns of upper-class English residences, such as the one in which Clarissa would have hosted her momentous party.
Here are two details: