Artist's Statements About Individual Works

Manners in the New Millennium: I–VIII (a suite of eight prints)

Archival trompe l’oeil pigment prints of scanned, photographed, and altered objects with typography, on Hahnemühle cotton rag • 19 x 19 • 2004 Printer: Silicon Gallery Fine Arts, Philadelphia

Image and statement collide as crisp icons of gentility contrast with statements about the descent of even the most elemental of polite mores. Each print in the suite features a different handkerchief, along with other mementos from the past, and a stricture from this artist/curmudgeon for living in a new age. The hankies’ edges were tatted or crocheted by three of my relatives — my maternal great grandmother, her mother, and my mother-in-law — all of whom were well accomplished not only in fancywork, but also in minding their manners. The intention in this suite of eight prints is to pay homage to the hankies and to the women who created them, to celebrate the skill and the passion that went into producing generation after generation of beautiful, functional art. It was the only creative avenue open to most women; and unfortunately, by definition and design, functional art was doomed to disentegrate.

Some of the obvious flaws and loose threads occurred through natural wear (the fate of so much of “women’s” art) — a fact that isemphasized in each print by the introduction of at least one sinister element. The hankies are threatened just as the way of life they represented is threatened. The pristine delicacy and beautiful handiwork of the hankies are emphasized and celebrated by their close-up-and-natural-looking “pose,” a feeling that is emphasized obliquely through the introduction of a contrasting (sinister) element in each print. Additionally, the contrast between words and images (a favorite theme in much of my work) serves to point out the contrast (and, often, conflict) in words vs. deeds… the sinister vs. the sublime… traditional mores vs. modern practices.

To produce the surreal feeling I was after (to play up the contrast between Then and Now, kindness and crudness), I developed a tech-nique for the scanning and manipulating three-dimensional objects in order to incorporate a view that one does not see in the real world — a view, in fact, that cannot be achieved any other way, a view that would not be possible were it not for modern technology. My natural “Ludditian” objections have been quieted.

I want to emphasize the fact that no hankies were harmed in the production of this suite: the rippings and piercings and stainings that appear to be caused by knife, fork, scissors, pins, pen, razor, and fruit are a kind of trompe l’oeil — accomplished through thread-by-thread (and, often, pixel-by-pixel) manipulation on the computer. The old drawing skills and training played a major role (O happy surprise!) in order to make the placement, tweaing, and shadows of the objects somewhat surreal, yet entirely believable (especially when they appear to sit upon or to weave in and out of, from in front of to behind, the hankies)