Of Pigeons and Prints (2014)

Happy New Year! As you can see from my prior post, the latter part of the year zipped by with no time to write here. A lot was brewing, however, which is now determinedly chugging along, and it’s all about pigeons and prints!

bookcoverMy all-consuming project for this year is Moving Targets, my collaboration with Steffi Domike that links our shared cultural heritage and family migrations to the story of the passenger pigeon.  This project is affiliated with a much larger effort by author and historian, Joel Greenberg, who has launched Project Passenger Pigeon to bring attention to the centenary of the extinction of this unique species and draw connections between its plight and our relationship to non-human nature. Joel’s  just released book (left) has received several notable reviews, and he has a full speaking schedule. You can track his whereabouts here. You can read our project summary and see our work in progress on my Portfolio page (tab above). Moving Targets first exhibition venue will be Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods in Deerfield, IL, opening May 4, through July 6. Along with our own work, we are curating a “Passenger Pigeon Portrait Gallery” for their library room, which will feature 14 artists, each representing a state/region in the former nesting range of the pigeons.

RaeSterlingAs part of our research for the project, we have been delving into our family histories and lineage, with the help of archeologist Ruth Fichman. She has been an invaluable addition to our team and has unearthed significant information about my mother’s family who lived in Chernigov, Ukraine and immigrated to Alberta, Canada around 1910. With the loss of my mother (left) when I was 6, I also lost many connections to my maternal family. With this project, I feel I am coming home to the family I thought I did not have. It has been thrilling and healing. As part of Moving Targets, Steffi and I are each creating a visual journal/album that will interpret the story of our mother’s families.

A secondary project is a tabletop etching press, which I purchased with a friend (see LOCUS tab above). I have wanted a press for years, and now I finally have it! Currently, we are exploring techniques and capabilities of the press. Eventually, I want to offer classes out of my studio. I love the surprise and unpredictability of printmaking, as well as the varied imagery that can be produced!

ArtichokePrntChineColleSMy recent prints reflect my ongoing study of botanical art, using the simplest method of intaglio printmaking–drypoint. The image is drawn directly onto a plate with a hard-pointed needle. Traditionally, the plate was copper or zinc, but today Plexiglas is also used, as I did in this print. Throughout the centuries, artists such as Albrech Durer (1471-1528), Joris Hoefnagel (1542-1601), and Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717) used this method among others to make “copies” of their original drawings. After an image was printed in black, it was often hand colored with watercolor paint. Color is added to the print at left using the technique of chine colle (collage). Colored rice papers are placed on the inked plate, with an application of glue on the top surface. Then the dampened printmaking paper is carefully placed over the top, coming in contact with the glue. The print is then run through the press. I am interested in mimicking and improvising on early botanical techniques, which suggest an historic period that predates modern science–a time of discovery, exploration, and wonder in the natural world.

2014 is looking to be a busy, demanding year with Moving Targets being exhibited in three or more venues and weekly printmaking sessions. Stay tuned for updates on both!

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About Ann T. Rosenthal

eco/community artist, educator, writer
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