Ink on Mulberry

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I’d almost forgotten how it came to be that I’ve been making these large collages of ink on mulberry paper. Edom Hernandez had gifted me a fairly large stack of the paper before he died.  The ream sat in my studio unused for many years, occupying its own drawer in the flat files.

Edom had been a close friend. His antique store in the Catskill Mountains was filled with interesting objects that often reflected his own refined tastes and interests.  I, myself, spent a portion of those years buying and selling antiques, so when we weren’t at an auction or at yard sales, we often chatted for hours, and babysat Edom’s shop.

There is nothing quite like having a lot of quality materials to use for art making.  If the materials are too precious, it can be inhibiting, while having a robust supply can help you get in that state of mind where making mistakes and being ridiculous can happen – important states of mind for the artist. Sometimes we require plentitude in order to take chances.

The stack of paper, once I started using it, did allow me to make mistakes and ridiculousness. The result was a few decent drawings, and even more rejects. I then started playing with assembling the “mistakes” into new pieces; and before long, I’d started making these large ink collages.

The paper lends itself to collage; when watered-down glue is brushed on, it soaks in and helps the paper adhere to the underlying paper.

Right now, making large-scale paintings isn’t practical for me, so this is a nice way to work large, and to be thinking of the paintings to come. It’s gratifying.

Jen Dragon stopped by the other day, looked up at this piece, and said, “oh, a deposition.” Jen’s seen a lot of my work over the years, and is pretty in tune with my sensibilities. The scene of the deposition was a classic theme in the history of art; it’s the moment in which Christ is being taken down from the cross.  It often shows Christ’s outstretched body being supported by a group of other figures, creating a sort of diagonal repose with the tension given by supporting hands and arms.

Jorge Jaramillo, a neighbor and acquaintance, died this past week. Jorge had been a dear friend to another friend of mine, and it reminded me of my friendship with Edom. “Dear friend” isn’t quite the word when two people have that special bond of good and frequent friendship – and it isn’t as common, perhaps, amongst men.  So, perhaps, a deposition – an end to suffering that leads to the burial – is very much present.

These thoughts all weave in and out, not unlike a collage, too; old friends, dying, making art. Sometimes newer thoughts obscure older; still present and sometimes more powerful for their semi-obscurity.

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