In the spring of 2017, my work was part of the exhibition “Tattooed New-York” at The New-York Historical Society. This exhibition traced the history of tattooing in New York starting with the native peoples to our times. It was curated by Cristian Petru Panaite.
My piece, “Hands Fly”, was exhibited with work that expands tattooing from the personal into art.
Tattooing was and is a part of human cultures globally.
My work is often inspired by the close relationship between tattoos and the honoring of plants and animals by other cultures, both past and present.
At the Brooklyn Museum is a small exhibition of jewelry, pottery, hunting tools and other objects of the indigenous peoples of the Americas in the Pre-Columbian time. One of the objects is a gold Chiriqui pendant of a spider whose legs end in human hands. This pendant served as an active extension of its owner, like tattoos, and a communicator of awe for a creature of nature.
An artist whose work includes spiders is Louise Bourgeois who saw spiders as elegant, fearsome and protective.
These are collage works of negatives of photographed tattoos with negatives of flora and fauna. To make the camera-less negatives, I project a small object, a flower or a piece of seaweed, for example, onto negative film with my enlarger. I photograph people’s tattoos with a 4X5” camera and enlarge these negatives onto larger film also in the darkroom.
With the flora and fauna, I do not aim to produce cliche images, but to allow the shapes to form, both in focus and out of focus. It is a process of discovery.
Once I design the piece I wish to create, using multiple negatives of tattoos with negatives of flora and fauna, I paint the palladium emulsion on the hand made translucent Japanese gampi paper. Once the emulsion has dried, I place the negatives on it and top with glass. Placed in the sun, it can take minutes in the summer and even hours in the winter for the image to form.
Depending on my ideas for each work, I may expose the work again with other negatives or paint it with water colors. Each unique work is process driven. At each stage I decide how the work is communicating.