Carl Jung interpreted the process of alchemy to that of individuation towards the Self, and the Alchemical Bride series takes a look at this alchemy through a feminist lens.
Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s just the transition from teaching to time off, I haven’t much felt like painting in oils. Instead, I have been really enjoying the immediacy of making marks. To me that inevitably leads to drawing and printmaking.
Drawing with a brush, like in the three pieces above is a nice bridge between the layering of marks and medium that oil painting entails. This is different from engraving, where I take a sharp burin and gouge out the lines that will hold ink.
The speed of the mark as well as how hard I press determines the darkness and character of the mark.
Other factors that impact the resulting image include the color of ink and the paper used. For example, Alchemical Bride engraving 1 is printed in Lampblack on a rice paper that while very strong, appears fragile due to its thinness and translucency. By contrast, the bright red ink on the warm white paper of ALchemical Bride engraving 2 lends a sense of heat and pressure to the image.
In Alchemical Bride engraving 3, I mixed my own red and decided to push the heat of the image further by printing on a yellow/tan paper. I wanted the weight and temperature of the inks and paper to increase the squeezing effect on the smiling bride created by the dark marks of the hair above left and the refractions below right. Squeeze!
In this last image, I mixed red and green inks to create a chromatic neutral grey that left a plate tone in each chroma. This way you feel the green and red but don’t really see them creating a tension that alludes to the chemical processes in alchemy.
When I get stuck in my painting, I can usually find my way back into a creative space by either drawing or its closely related cousin, printmaking. I’ve been working out ideas through engraving, a technique of directly scribing an image onto a plate. The beauty of engraving is the act of drawing at its most physical and direct. And then, you get to create variances through ink, paper, wipes, etc. The Migrations series isn’t done with me, though I had hoped I could move on, and so I have been spending time in the print studio working.
I pulled a proof today, black ink on chine colle. The colle is a pixilated antique map of Santiago de Cuba. Can you see the body against the map in the print?
I think of this figure as an archetypal hero, arms raised to banish false freedoms. Santiago has always been central to Cuban independence and freedom. The birthplace of El Titan de Bronze, the home of Frank Pais, and it was from a balcony in Santiago that Fidel Castro declared the revolution a success on January 1, 1959. Santiago de Cuba is also where La Trampa was sited, the camp for political dissidents I was carted off to at the age of 6 with my family. My brother was 8. We must have been so dangerous to Cuba’s freedom and revolution!
When I think of my catastrophic experience of Cuba’s “freedom” I’m overwhelmed with gratitude to be here, in the USA as an American citizen. It’s true that I have found freedom here, that it is here that I fell in love with my California sunshine– my husband Scott– as red-blooded American homegrown as they get. In my heart and mind, I think of the USA as the land of the free and the brave. How tragic that now I can’t help but also think of the young Latinx children incarcerated at the border…they must be very dangerous to the American way of life, to the USA. Like my brother and I were to the Cuban government?