Almost a century later he has become my unwitting collaborator for this project.
To make these prints I scan, and print the original documents and proceed to trace his handwritten words, rendering them into an indecipherable new language. Existing between looking and reading the work shifts the narrative from one that is directly told to one that is more deeply felt.
The documents provide a template for me to work with. After scanning the original letters and envelopes, I proceed to digitally erase my grandfather’s writings, leaving behind an image of blank stationary or envelope. Traces of postmarks, folds and stamps are left as remnants of touch, time and travel. This “empty” image is printed out as an archival pigment print, sometimes embellished with graphite, and becomes the receptacle for the monotype print. I then copy the letters with my own hand onto a monotype plate, intentionally over ink the plate. The over inking transforms the written words into amorphous asemic writing.
Embedded in this meditative act of transcribing another’s gesture’s is the yearning to touch, to know. The results are unreadable, suggesting that what lies in the heart of one is all but unknowable to another. The reverent duplication of my grandfather’s marks becomes a recognition of a shared ancestry and sits on the edge of my own identity.
The works are a blend of photography, drawing and printmaking. I use reclaimed photo black ink and a natural photo paper. The ink is especially deep black and sits atop the coated photo paper in a unique and, for me, satisfying manner.
This body of work is bit of a departure from the core of my practice and one I found particularly poignant for me at this time of my life.
All works on Red River Aurora Natural Photo Paper