A Complete Cycle
212” x 30”
Intaglio etchings on okawara paper, hand stitched
The beginning of Transplanted originated with etchings of the iconographic Chinese zodiac that explore the passage of time and the importance of cycles. As I was drawing each animal form I considered the importance of that year within my own life. Each year correlates with a specific animal that has a known cultural significance and value; sometimes families plan to have children in auspicious years. Throughout my childhood, my mother and the rest of my adopted China group gathered to celebrate Chinese New Year, eat Chinese food, and watch the dragon dance. I always remember learning about the different traits and traditions associated with each year. Chinese New Year always left me feeling a little closer and connected to the culture I was dissociated from.
Each animal print is a hardground etching on a zinc plate; some prints include other traditional printmaking techniques such as aquatint and drypoint. I chose to work in intaglio to emphasize detail and character of each individual animal. I am drawn towards the physical and technical aspects of creating an etching. In order to produce an image one has to file and bevel a plate, degrease it, place on a hot plate and cover with hardground, draw in an image, and lastly immerse it in an acid bath. Aquatint is darkening method of intaglio print in which a rosin layer is applied evenly to the entire surface of the plate and then painting with shellac resist which, allowed for selective darkening and highlighting of the hooves. Drypoint is a printmaking process of scribing directly into a plate, it produces a fuzzy line quality and also often a dark deep line. Within my own work I used aquatint and drypoint to darken the hooves and feet of certain animals once they had been etched. The plates range in size from 5” by 5.5” to 17.5” by 28”.
Once the plate has been made, the animals are then printed on mulberry and okawara paper, hand stitched together with red thread, and organized chronologically. The red thread refers to the Chinese proverb, “An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but will never break.” This proverb draws ties between my connection back to my motherland and my biological parents. The zodiac motif in a long scroll format reminisces on celebrating Chinese New Year and the lack of Chinese culture from my upbringing.
Anderson, Myrna. "Knitting for Red Thread." Calvin College, http://www.calvin.edu/news/2005-06/red_thread.htm?dotcmsredir=1.