Sunday, November 22, 2009

STORY BOOK ARTISTS DEFINED

Story Book Artists is a grassroots collaborative of neighbors with the common interest of creating art in a social setting. Historic downtown Phoenix provides the backdrop for the Story Book Artists' gatherings in which artistic techniques, processes, and ideas are exchanged. This diverse group produces original and individualistic works of art that breathe a sense of community.
~ Todd Daniel

BUACHAILLI BANA


Buachaillí Bána (Whiteboys) Gocco Print

A tenacious capacity for hatred can be found in the Irish people, brought about by anger against oppression. This image from the 1930s of Buachaillí Bána (Whiteboys) is testament for the lasting emotion.

Amused and intrigued by this old Irish photograph I was compelled to create this print.

Buachaillí Bána, a secret Irish agrarian organization from the 1700s, used violent tactics to defend tenant farmer land rights for subsistence farming. After the Rising of '98 the Act of Union was enforced which resulted in absentee English landlords giving middlemen a free hand to charge rack rents to tenants who lived in fear of eviction. Over time, Whiteboyism became a general term for rural violence connected to secret societies.

Through my research over the past few years I have become drawn to the plight of the Irish, especially of the mid 1800s, the horrors of the Great Famine and the subsequent migration or death of over a fourth of the population.

I don't know if being a first generation American makes one feel that they are not really part of the culture, or sort of bridged between two cultures. All I know is that sometimes I feel a longing for a culture I have never really experienced, but somehow, very deeply, feel I know. This was especially noticed when I went to Ireland, the birthplace of my ancestors: Mac Giolla Earnáin, more commonly known as McLarnon. Never did I feel so acquainted with a place and so comfortable. The strongest experience I had was in Lurgan, Northern Ireland.

It was a Saturday evening at a local, segregated graveyard where Jake and I found many a relative buried. As we looked at the plots two women tending a grave close to us were wondering what we were doing there. Jake explained that my family was from Lurgan and that we were looking for connections. They asked for my family's religion, then told us to go over to the Catholic Church and see if anyone knew of any relatives in the area.

There was a group of four older women standing and chatting after mass as the crowd was leaving St. Peter's. They seemed approachable, so Jake and I went to talk to them. One woman, Una, was particularly interested in helping us. She said she knew some McLarnons and walked us door to door to see if any were related. As we walked, I commented on how helpful she was and also how just about everyone was so friendly and kind to us. She said, it was nothing, but then she said something that really stopped me. "We usually hate everything," was her comment, as she smiled and looked at me with her deep blue eyes. In my family, if someone mentions a book, a movie or an actor, we immediately reply "Oh, I just hate (something relating to the topic)." We usually get teased or reprimanded for our highly opinionated commentary. But here was Una highlighting just the same attitude.

After we came home from Ireland I wrote to the church for more records on my family. They had my grandfather's baptism certificate and the wedding of my great grandparents and their parents listed. The funny thing is that after I found out more, I wrote to Una and told her what I had discovered. It turns out her grandmother was my great grandmother's sister.

I think the Irish have a great sense of community and pride, but also of a great sense of deprivation: which sometimes manifests on a large scale in rebellion and on a small scale in anger and depression. Part of looking at Ireland's history for me is to develop an understanding of my story. In part of that story there is a need for community. My community is composed of wonderful, artistic, creative, and insightful people. With them I feel like I belong, my cultural uncomfortableness disappears. Routinely getting together to work on projects with my husband, Jake, and with my friend, Todd, working on long distance collaborations with my friend, Mary, and belonging to the newly formed Story Book Artists group I feel acceptance. Without them there would be a terrible isolation.

I would hate that.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

EXHIBIT NO. THIRTEEN



This is one of the larger sketches in the series measuring 8 x 6 inches and depicting a ring that is no wider than one inch. It is the ring that Mary C. Leto so generously let me keep out of the two that were found with the mystery items. I had a garnet set into it and wear it everyday. It keeps me close to the project and to my friend. Mary has the other ring. In earlier times, garnets were exchanged as gifts between friends to demonstrate their affection for each other and to insure that they meet again. I like that.

THE COVER WARPS

I am new to bookmaking (no, no not the kind where you take bets) and never made a real cover before (I have made some lame attempts though), so I think I might have uncovered the binding from the press too soon. There was some warping. I have placed it under pressure again. Sorry, Mary, you left it here and I don't know if I am a good caretaker of this book.

JACOB'S BLOCK PRINTS

During our random art nights (because we all can't get our schedules coordinated for a regular time) Jacob has been creating some series of prints. One is a group called the Freedom Series which features commentary on social issues of imprisonment, revolution and torture. The other is called the Strange Series and reflects a scary approach with a nod to classical horror imagery.


this is one of my favorites: Viva, Freedom Series © copyright 2009

There are many more images that are featured on the flickr pages. If anyone is interested please contact Jacob.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

COVER



It is late on Tuesday night and we have just peeked under our weights to see how the cover is drying. Mary and I are very happy with the results. The palm paper on the front cover is just as we imagined. Our only disappointment was the black paper we chose for the spine. It bled a lot and it came through the map on the inside cover. We are thinking of a way to purposefully disguise it. There has been a whirlwind of events these last few days, but sharing them with my great friend and colleague, Mary C. Leto, has been fun.

Monday, November 2, 2009

GOCCO WORKSHOP

Several friends in our downtown Phoenix neighborhoods have gocco printmaking systems. We all had the same reaction to gocco, we tried it once and just had to have the printmaker. Rather than let our little printers sit and gather dust, we decided to invite a group of creative people to make some prints. One friend offered her backyard for the workshop and others brought food and wine. We brought our goccos.



We called our group Story Book Artists and will be having more workshops in the future. One print each was donated back to the group so that we could try to get a local coffee shop or gallery to show the images. See more on flickr.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

MARY IS HERE


trench upon trench upon trench upon trench by Mary C. Leto

Mary has arrived from South Carolina and has brought her 16 pages. They are really just amazing. We spent the first day sorting all the pages out and arranging them in the best order, very happy with how well our designs complimented each other.

The next step was thinking about the binding. Because of the uneven edges and weight and texture of the paper we chose not to do a traditional spine, but instead have a sort of deconstructed book in which the pages are tied to a grid. We felt the strings act like a representation of the roots of trees, as well as, the roots of families, tied together yet separated.


Mary and I sewing the string to the grid after tieing it to the pages

Tomorrow we will make a cover. It is all very exciting. See more on flickr.

IN THE TRENCHES, Hart Island, New York