In March, Philadelphia artist Bill Brookover gave a presentation at the Print and Picture Collection of the Free Library of Philadelphia. Bill has been doing research in the collections and is helping to raise the visibility of the holdings there. He assembled a group of lithographs by Arthur Flory and woodcuts by Abraham Hankins, both active mid-twentieth century, to highlight the oeuvre of these two Philadelphia printmakers. Among the artwork on display was this black-line relief print by Abraham Hankins.
I was instantly drawn to the opaque, textural and painterly surface, printed on black paper that casts a veil of darkness over all. With this treatment, the cut-out lines reverse to read as scrawled black lines. The gouged-out would-be negative shapes transform into substantive black marks by the reversal. Seeds of inspiration, and investigation, settled into a deep fold of my creative brain. Sometimes things just just fall into place.
Some weeks after Bill's presentation, I Googled "black-line woodcut" and found some amazing and inspiring works by Anne Ryan, ca. 1945, among others. It appears to have been a technique favored in the 1940s-60s. I love the mid-century aesthetics and I have many nostalgic associations with the whole gestalt of the period. It was like discovering buried treasure.
I am fortunate to have stumbled upon this printmaking technique at this juncture. For the past few weeks my experiments with paper and inks have been both fruitful and frustrating, but that's the way it always goes acquiring new tools and learning to use them. I am beginning to get a feel for it. I want to express the tenebrous atmosphere of winter in North Iceland and colors that emerged from the darkness. I want to capture my experience of connection to Icelandic place, and to the ephemeral here and now.