June 16, 2015
Work in Progress – In Dreams I Learned to Swim, update 3
I used my collagraph plates and the large Gelli plate to make prints onto cotton sateen in a variety of colorways. I hadn’t particularly planned for it to be this vibrant, but that’s how it worked out as I went along.
As I spent time arranging and rearranging the prints on the design wall, I spent a lot of time working out the compositional aspects of it all. I spent even more time working out my motivation for making this work, as that’s the truly important part. It’s vital for me to know what it is I’m expressing; it’s not just a design exercise.
The story goes like this: when I was a girl, I never learned to swim. It was a not a particularly valued skill in my family, and was not a part of the cultural expectations and narrative I was being raised to fulfill. I learned as a young adult, but I am a bit awkward at it, and have to limit myself to swimming in very safe situations. It’s a minor thing, really, in the grand scheme of life’s rich tapestry, but I suppose on some level I feel the sting of a missed opportunity, for swimming began to enter my dreams about the River.
Swimming in the Susquehanna can be dangerous for the strongest and most experienced of athletes. Despite its often calm surface appearance, it is riddled with tricky undercurrents. But in my dreams I a glide powerfully along, riding out the currents and admiring the landscape, the master of all I survey.
It’s a large concept, and needed a large canvas to fully express it. After settling on the arrangement of the prints, I hand painted and printed more fabrics, including silk noil, to extend the narrative.