Skip to main content

Thinking Back Ten Years

Luminaries outside Mount Carroll History Center, IL

Despite my left-leaning politics, I generally try only to post art and art-related stuff on my blog or social media. After the events here in the USA yesterday (January 6th, 2021), that is proving a difficult thing to maintain. But here is something that might speak to both urges (please bear with me to the end).

A public art project

The photos in this post show a public art project that I did in collaboration with @patricia.a.mcnair.7 at the end of 2010. We spent time in a small town in northwest Illinois, named Mount Carroll, on a community memory project. The request: people of all changes supply an old family photo, together with a page of memories they associate with it. What was nice is that we gathered the memories of some of the youngest and the oldest people in the town, ending up with one memory for every decade of the twentieth century.

Luminary with phototransfers

Phototransfers

I then printed the photos and one line of memory on plexiglass panels, and installed them in giant luminaries. The luminaries were donated by a local furniture maker, and each one had a solar light installed in the top to provide illumination at night.


Assembling the luminaries

A Long Relationship

At the opening night in December 2010, I talked about how this project was in some ways a culmination of my long history of connections to America and American culture. How I grew up in the UK watching many American shows on TV. Listened to so many American musicians. Took a course in American literature at university. Sitting in the University Library reading about the glorious US constitution, the terrible wars from within to subvert it, the constant battles to realize its meaning. Waiting until I was 35 to see the USA for the first time (the skyscrapers of midtown Manhattan gleaming in late afternoon sun as the plane swung in from the Atlantic towards La Guardia). Falling in love with an American woman and marrying her. Meeting so many Americans of all ages and persuasions, and very rarely having anything but a pleasant experience. Thanking the people at that public art project for accepting this odd Englishman into their community.

L: one of the project participants, with (R) me speaking
at the opening night


To Sum It Up

I don't want to forget what happened yesterday. But I also want to be reminded of things like my experience of ten years ago, too. That is all.



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A List of Every Drink in Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises"

I first read Ernest Hemingway's 1926 novel "The Sun Also Rises" when I was a teenager, and immediately fell in love with it. For the last couple of years, I have had the incredible privilege of teaching a class based around Hemingway in Paris -- while living and teaching in Paris itself, close to the Boulevard du Montparnasse, where most of the action of the novel's first half takes place. Of the many things that one notices about the book, the colossal amount of drinking is something that stands out. These people didn't just drink like fish: they drank like whales, as if the ocean they swam in was alcohol and they had set themselves the task of drinking the seas of the world dry of it. During my read-through of the book before class started last year, I tried to underline every mention of drink in the book. And now, purely in the interests of science, I am listing the entire menu of booze mentioned directly by name. Some preliminary observations: Most of

How to etch a linoleum block

Linoleum as a material for printmaking has been used for nearly a hundred years now. Normally, you cut an image out using special gouges similar to woodcut tools, cutting away the lino around the image you want to print. This is called relief printmaking, because if you look at the block from the side, the material that remains stands up in relief from the backing material. You then roll ink with a brayer over the surface of the block, place paper over it, and either print by hand or run it through a press. You can do complex things this way (for example, reduction linocuts), but the beauty of the process is that it is quick, simple, and direct. Incised lino block, from me.redith.com Etched lino block, from Steve Edwards A few years ago, I saw some prints that were classified as coming from etched linoleum blocks, and I loved the textures I saw in them. In the last few months, I've been trying to use this technique in my own studio, learning about it as one does these d

Brancusi in Plastic

Artist Mary Ellen Croteau is showing these columns made from recycled plastic cartons and lids in the window of the Columbia College bookstore on Michigan Avenue. They are a playful homage to Brancusi's "Endless Columns", with a serious environmental message for our times: Image copyright Inhabitat.com and Mary Ellen Croteau Mary Ellen also runs a wonderful experimental art gallery in a window space in west Chicago, called Art on Armitage . I will be exhibiting a mixed media piece there during August 2012.