As a child in Lexington, Kentucky, where the history of private press printing dates back to 1787, I formed a very personal take on artist's books. I believe such books should be liberally endowed with both text and images, meant to cherish and enjoy often. I still have my copy of Mr. Poof’s Discovery, by John Jacob and Rena Niles, with line drawings by Harriet MacDonald (Bur Press, 1947).
Is There Something We Can Do explores our relationship to the earth in a sequence of watercolors and texts presented in a circular accordion format, to be read in the round or displayed as sculpture. It was published in 2017, in two parts, as a boxed edition of 25 that includes one of the original watercolor drawings and a blue marble; and as a slipcased edition of 25 that includes an archival pigment print.
A Butterfly Careless, my first book, was a collaboration with the poet and playwrite Andrew Gay. Andy’s western-style haiku and my monotype collages call to mind events and images from the natural world. A Butterfly Careless was printed letterpress at Stinehour Press (Lunenburg, Vermont, 2001). The slipcase is stamped in foil with an original monotype laid into a debossed panel.
The Virgin of the Bean
The story of the Virgin of the Bean began in El Bruc, Spain, near the Benedictine monastery at Montserrat. As I was sweeping up the studio floor, I noticed an unusual form and picked it up to examine it further. It turned out to be a locust bean pod from one of the trees outside. For days, I made timed drawings to get more familiar with it, and I realized how accurately it seemed to represent an icon of the Virgin. Since that discovery in 2011, I've used the bean for more drawings, and as the introductory paintings for my installation at the University of Maine in 2014. I'm curious about all the aspects of Mary and what she represents, and this has given rise to an ongoing series of watercolor woodcuts.
There are many other correspondences surrounding the locust pod and the Virgin. Particularly resonant for me is the legend that the statue of the Virgin of Montserrat, La Moreneta or the Little Dark One, was found in the 9th century by shepherd boys who were led to her resting place by an angel. She's tied to the earth through her color and legendary place of discovery, and was so heavy that the monks could not move her and so built the monastery around her.
It's important to me to bring a sense of the medieval to this exploration, and I've chosen woodcuts as a way into this ongoing series.
Ground/Underground Installation, The Virgin of the Bean Triptych, Oil on Birch Panel, each 29 x 11 inches
Ground/Underground Votive Card, 6 x 4 inches, Democratic Multiple
Maria del Mar, Watercolor Woodcut, 10.5 x 8.5 inches, Ed. of 5
La Virgen Encinta, Watercolor Woodcut, 10.5 x 8.5 inches, Var. Ed. of 7
The Gift of Tongues, Watercolor Woodcut, 11.5 x 8.5 inches, Ed. of 4
The Virgin Bound, Watercolor Woodcut, Silkscreen, Colored Pencil, 11 x 8.5 inches, Var. Ed. of 5
Our Lady of the Blossomed Thorns, Watercolor Woodcut and Silkscreen, 10.5 x 8.5 inches, Ed. of 4
I made well over 200 of these monotypes for the Butterfly Careless project. Some of them embellish the slipcases of the limited edition book, and others, including those shown here, are free-ranging. In making them I was mindful of the haiku's structure, and chose three elements, the circle, the line and the square, as emblematic of the haiku's three lines. With those parameters in mind, I varied the mark making as well as the linear and circular forms to produce discrete images that recall both outer space and terrestrial botanical forms.
Monotype No. 37, Ink on Mohawk Superfine Text, 4 x 4 inches
Monotype A, Ink on Mohawk Superfine Text, 4 x 4 inches
Monotype No. 35, Ink on Mohawk Superfine Text, 4 x 4 inches
Monotype No. 8, Ink on Mohawk Superfine Text, 4 x 4 inches
Monotype No. 28, Ink on Mohawk Superfine Text, 4 x 4 inches
Monotype No. 11, Ink on Mohawk Superfine Text, 4 x 4 inches
Monotype No. 9, Ink on Mohawk Superfine Text, 4 x 4 inches
Monotype No. 29, Ink on Mohawk Superfine Text, 4 x 4 inches
Monotype No. 38, Ink on Mohawk Superfine Text, 4 x 4 inches
Monotype No. 36, Ink on Mohawk Superfine Text, 4 x 4 inches
Monotype No. 10, Ink on Mohawk Superfine Text, 4 x 4 inches
Monotype No. 45, Ink on Mohawk Superfine Text, 4 x 4 inches