Category Archives: Writing

We are Rich in Love

This installation consists of a 5′ x 8′ print on paper, a collection of carved wooden block sculptures of various sizes, a set of chess pieces whittled from twigs, a dried common mullein plant, a representation of a monumental roadside religious pilgrimage site built by a distant cousin of mine, my grandmother’s drawing of a piece of driftwood, and the actual piece of driftwood. The matrices from which the print was made are carved and engraved on the set of sculptural blocks. Some are patterns, others contain images and/or words, while still others are typographic sets of letters and punctuation marks in two different sizes. I have been carving this series of blocks and printing them in various combinations since 2005. For awhile I was doing street performances using the blocks, in a project I called Footprint Factory, and they were also a part of A Work of Art.

The chess pieces are arranged such that all the high ranking pieces have not moved from where they started, but the pawns are gathered at the center of the board, as though conspiring together around a long feasting table laden with food.

The message in the patterned, quilt-like patchwork of prints reads as follows: ”

WE’VE WORKED SO HARD FOR YOU

BUT KEEP YOUR MONEY, HONEY-!

TAKE IT, & HIDE IT SOMEPLACE

WE DON’T REALLY NEED IT:

WE ARE RICH IN LOVE

 

When I was young, my family, like the vast majority of families that share this Earth, did not have a lot of money. We struggled to get by in those days, and we still do. But we did have some love, and I must insist that it will always mean so much more, in spite of everything we’ve been conditioned to believe, here in the brutal clutches of capitalism.

Our Running Running Running Father

I made this print on commission from Kate Riley. She said she wanted something for her best friend Nora. Nora’s favorite story is the Parable of the Prodigal Son a.k.a. the Running Father from the Bible. I read Henri Nouwen’s book about Rembrandt’s painting of the story. It gave me a lot to think about in terms of my own family and the human family more generally. I made two new carvings, which you see repeated in the bottom of the print. Both are self portraits from photographs, one laughing, one crying. The other images are assembled from blocks I had made in the past: a tree, some people in the Siberian landscape of my memories, and a visual feast of food within a house frame, from the recent print project “the Land Gives…” The original text in this piece I did by hand in oak gall ink. I made it in an edition of three. One went to Nora, and I have two left.

A Boat to Find Christine Periord

I produced this work while I was in retreat from the world at Phats Valley residency in Truro, Cape Cod in December, 2013.

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I made a small skin-on-frame boat as a magic tool for exploring my cultural heritage. I was thinking a lot about my Irish ancestors and about an ancestor on my paternal grandmother’s side. My Grandma Helen’s Great Grandmother was a Native American woman named Christine Periord from Hawkesbury, Ontario. That’s all we know about her. No tribe information, nothing. All lost in the shifting sands of cultural assimilation. So I kind of made this boat as a very indirect way of finding out more about her.

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I lashed the frame of willow saplings and split locust gunwhales together with nylon sailmaker’s twine. The form is similar to a very foreshortened Irish Currach.

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I skinned the boat with canvas salvaged at the town dump, sewn to fit the form of the hull and lashed to the frame in the style of an Umiak.

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I made driftwood scraps into seats and flooring and lashed in place.

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The hand stitching on the canvas was laborious but rewarding.

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Ann Chen helped with the stitching, and also encouraged and supported the entire project.

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The boat is light enough for me to easily carry it on my back.

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The canvas is coated with tar for waterproofing.

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We tried it in the salt marsh in Truro, by the house where I was staying. Our neighbor Rich asked us to retrieve a red plastic trash can that had drifted in and gotten stuck in the marsh grass. We got it back to him in no time.

I also made a small hand-stitched photocopied book in an edition of 31, documenting my research and building process, and incorporating a new set of 6 woodblock carvings and engravings, as well as some drawings and a bibliography. Copies of the book are for sale in the Emporium. Read on to view the full contents.

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The Land Gives…

 

This is a work I made at the Center for Book Arts in 2012 when I was a resident artist there. It consists of thirty-six woodcuts and wood engravings from all six sides of six handmade type-high (0.918″) blocks of maple, with an original narrative text & list poem handset in lead Caslon Antique type, letterpress printed in seven colors on a paper booklet & fold-out broadside. For sale in the Emporium of Real Things.

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The C.R.I.E.R.S.

This work imagines what it would be like to convene an inter-species committee about the monumental environmental crises we face on Earth. The acronym, C.R.I.E.R.S., stands for “the Committee for Relentless Inquiry into the Earth’s Regretful Situation.” Click on the image to view it bigger so you can read it.

Handset letterpress, original text, four color reduction woodcut, additional marks made in homemade oak gall ink and storebought shellac paint. Printed at the Center for Book Arts in 2012. Edition of 15 deluxe four color, plus 45 single color. 14 1/2″ x 11″. For sale at the Emcee C.M. Emporium.

We Common

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In the winter of 2009-2010 I was  working on how to collect Sycamore (London Plane) sap from all the street and park trees in New York, and boil it down for Sycamore syrup, which reportedly is like maple syrup, but a little more “mediocre.”

I documented that project along with some other related thoughts and experiences in a work called  We Common, published by ISCP in an exhibition catalog called Out of the Blue, and online at the Center for Collective Wealth.