Monday, March 30, 2015

phase 6 - each art-thing is a responsibility, new collage

Brand New!
I'm super excited about this new piece :), so showing it first then looping  back around to try to explain where is came from....

Last post, I was working on a full scale figure. I'm excited to be working at full-scale again and testing new technical ideas. The work was moving along well (note to self to remember to never, ever think this -doh!). I thought this week, I'd have the full figure ready to what happened??

It has to do with the gloves.  Even though it's a full scale figure, there aren't that many components - two gloves, two boots, head with crown, and body silhouette. Because there aren't that many elements, each one has to do some compositional heavy lifting in order for the piece to work as a whole. I thought I had double and triple checked all the elements before starting to sew them down (...uh oh - can we guess where this is going? ;p).  

The more I thought about it, the more something about the gloves bothered me. Working on phase 6, I decided it doesn't help to complete it if it isn't right, so I took a step back. My first thought - maybe I just drew or carved them wrong? Nope - not inaccurate, just not for this piece... 

...just because they're accurate, doesn't mean they're right 
 (at least not for this piece...)
 So then I went in two different directions. 1) finding the right thing for this piece and 2) finding the right piece for the gloves.

The first part gave me a chance to appreciate fully one element of constructing the collage with sewing instead of adhesive - it's easy to undo [snip. snip]. While it makes sense that I started with my actual winter gloves, the time has come to broaden the margins. The universe gave me a present (confirmation that I'm on the right track?) when I found these gorgeous vintage gloves in a local thrift shop - and (and, and!) they cost less than two fancy coffees [:D] Even though I draw the designs on the blocks, I like to photograph and work with the images as a way of spending time seeing and analyzing what I'm looking at; so, the first part of the week went to undoing, finding new source material and re-photographing. Well- worth it, I think, because I love the button on the back and the design element on the front of the new gloves - can't wait to carve them!

The second part was to find what piece the the gloves do belong with...The part that led to reconsidering them is that they're bulky. And what are bulky gloves for...falconry.  

This piece from last year, The Yellow Wallpaper
has been on my mind...
So I got to thinking - as much as I'm happy continuing to move the full-scale figure forward, is there something else I also want to be making? [spoiler: asking the question = yes! haha]

The full-scale figure it a personification of Death. But looking back at art history, Death has a twin, Sleep. [Fair warning - I'm about to go full-force-art-history-nerd. ;)] 

Not coincidentally, the persistence of iconography of Sleep and Death from Antiquity through the Medieval period and into the early Renaissance was the focus of my studies in art history [Yes, I'm a huge, huge nerd.]

Can't pass up the opportunity to show  this gorgeous object
 - Sleep and Death carrying the body of Sarpedon
on the Euphronius Crater -  an Attic  red-figure krater by Euphronios
from c. 515 BC 
There are a few aspects of this topic that intrigue me - the wings, the idea of twins that are sometimes identical and sometimes not - a repetition with variation. Most of all, one of the things that drew me to this topic (and to the subject of death iconography in general) is how incredibly persistant it is. Not just the iconography, but the meaning is incredibly consistent across over 2500 years.

30th Street Station Angel of the Resurrection.jpg
World War II memorial sculpture in
Pennsylvania Station, Philadelphia
by Walker Hancock, 1952


This is a sculpture by Walker Hancock in Philadelpia's Penn Station unveiled in 1952. The iconography of the winged figure removing a dead soldier from the battlefield is consistent with the Ancient Greek scene (which is described in Homer's Iliad, bk 9).

In this sculpture, there's one figure instead of two, but I would argue that this is because the twins have been conflated and the idea of Sleep remains as demonstrated in ritual. Every Remembrance Day, a wreath of poppies is given to the tomb of the unknown soldier; likewise it's the flower worn on Memorial Day. In Classical iconography - poppies are an attribute of Sleep. (Lots of examples, but I particularly like this one - a nice grave relief sculpture in which the winged figure of Sleep is helpfully labeled and has poppies in hand: - Interesting, right?)
Another favorite depiction of
Sleep in the British Museum.
A 1st - 2nd Century AD copy 

of a Hellenistic Original
So...I wanted to create a Sleep to go with Death and I've also been thinking about twins. I decided to carve and inverse of the portrait block.

Older block on left and new block this week on right.

close up of both blocks - I think my carving is improving :)


I've started accessorizing the bird prints - o my

The idea of falconry goes well with a depiction of Sleep because especially in Medieval depictions (but also in Classical scenes, particularly those from the play Alcestis) Death is shown as a hunter who always catches his quarry. It's less conventional, but the same is equally true of Sleep - no one can escape Sleep forever.

So, I had the new face block, the gloves, the falcon, the idea of hunting...smooth sailing, right...(haha).

It still needed something more to read as "hunting"...

I drew in symbols of map in the background that gradually face into the marbling as a way of showing a nonsensical place -  logical features that don't add up to a real place - appropriate for the landscape of sleep :)

I worked a poppy design into the sleeves - thumbs up!
I think it's all coming together and this week I'll spend time sewing things down and permanently attaching the parts.

Funny further proof that this view has definitely been on my mind :) While uploading the photos, I noticed how the pattern in Sleep's dress just happens to look like curtains at the window next to the desk - haha!
In para-art - the trails of the local conservation area are starting to clear of snow and I can't wait to get back to photographing in the park! 
Saw a raptor on the first walk of the spring -auspicious :)