A Series of drawings, ceramic sculptures, and prints; digital and pressed.
In the summer of 2019, I learned of the suicide of a close family friend, his death incited in me a feeling of sorrow that spurred a series of drawings that became an intimate memorial of our relationship. They were conversations I wish we could have had; things I wish I could have said to him before he was gone. The drawings became conversations I had with myself and how to deal with him being gone. These drawings became these objects I held dear to me, I began to investigate what could be done with them in ways that would embody the feelings of love and loss I was still feeling.
As I continued to work with the ideas of loss and memory and the ephemerality of memory itself, I began to think about the preservation of work and how we as a society create objects and monuments to memorialize people, and events that happen, and started to think of how do we memorialize a memory and the emotion of loss, I tried encasing the works in plexi casings, surrounding them in flowers picked from the stems, placing them around the image and words trying to see if that felt like it was good enough, but the confined act of trying to keep a memory in a place away from the world that surrounds it seemed unlikely and impossible.
I moved the engravings into beds of flowers and pinned them as if they were part of a floral arrangement as if it were something you would come across at a memorial event. Creating these once black and white drawings into the fragile plaques living flowers beds of flowers gave them life and vibrance that made me continue with these ideas and images more. I thought about how once we declare a memory of someone and something and we intend it to stay that way, that even after time has based and the memory has faded, we still hold onto what was once there.
I continued with these images, now moving into the idea of creation, and how when creating something new, these memories these marks that have been made on us from our past experiences persevere in our lives, the stay with us. And with this, I began to recreate vessels, like the original ones I drew from reference to start this project, and imposed on these new vessels that were formed from clay stamped through the slab roller with the original illustrator file produced in my first iteration of moving from the analog drawings to the digital ones. I also screen-printed the analog drawings onto the raw clay and glazed over the top of the prints. All six of the vessels, each one slowly unraveling in sequence down a line, still holding onto the original ideas, imagery, and emotion from the drawings imprinted on these sculpture objects.
Filling these new vessels with flowers each one less and less capable of holding them described this feeling that was there but fleeting. This idea of loss and memory became evident in each creation and photograph and led me once again back to drawing the vessels asking myself questions about the things I once remembered so prevalently in my mind. These drawings took the form of prints, my first on a stone, still working with the Momagami paper and introducing more fibrous papers that abstracted the prints as they were pulled from the stone. These drawings abstracted from the originals took new forms and shapes, they themselves disseminated the memories from the vessels in different ways than the sculptures did putting them further and further away from what the original feeling and emotion was, and left me in conversation with myself saying, “that’s not the way I remember it.”
In my next attempt to deal with this moment of uncertainty, I produced a series of screenprints, again using these fibrous papers and working with photographs from the unraveling series of ceramics, I noted on the prints that conversation. The culmination of the series had a laser engraved Momagami paper with the same note and image.
As I move down the line of images and into Intaglio, I began using the laser cutter to create my plate and etched through high heat spray paint as a resist and etched and printed it in another series, using recycled paper, Momagami paper, found paper and finishing it with a laser engraved piece lightweight BFK.
This laser engraving had me thinking about the process of laser cutting and the power settings on the laser, and I started to use the process more like a printmaking matrix than I had before. I dialed in the power of the laser to different angles like you would when separating a screen for CMYK printing and came up with a much richer image full of depth and creating a more sculptural object than the prints before had yielded. As I moved into creating digital prints in this project, I kept these settings in mind and continued forward.
I created a digital composition of the photographs of the unraveling ceramic pieces and started digitally printing them. I began removing part of the print with the laser, setting different powers to different angles like in screen printing, and on the cutter, and removed layers of colors Leaving parts of the image untouched by the laser and others full of vibrancy from the digital print. Combining these digital prints with screen-printing the simple words “Why Can’t I Remember” in the middle of the composition I then played with the removing of the ink from the digital print versus the screen-printing ink, each touch of the laser became different on these prints, each section its own, each print altered in its own way. I then removed the words completely from one of the digital prints and chine-colléd them onto an engraving of the image from this series. These prints cumulated with a washed and lacquered sculpture of the print, with the image barely visible, but the screen-printed text, “Why Can’t I Remember” prominently visible shining through.
The marks we continue to create and experiment with further my love for the process of printmaking, the way we use materials and tools to create marks, learning to create and use new matrices exploring our ideas of history, memory, and the artifacts we create that will stand the test of time through not only the images we create but the process in creating them that we leave behind.