My newest hand pulled fine art print is a combination etching and monoprint. It was created for the "Verse to Image Exhibition" at the Riverside Community Arts Association Center in Riverside, California.
This exhibit features members of the Printmakers Network affiliated with the Riverside Art Museum and explores the connections and spaces between literature and the plastic arts with displays of writing that have inspired the artists' works on view.
My print was inspired by Margaret Atwood's poem The Poet Has Come Back and by a quote about rebellion from Chris Hedge's book Death of the Liberal Class.
Atwood's poem talks about the god of poets having two hands, "the dexterous and the sinister" which actually refers to the left and right hands, something of great interest for me due to five years spent painting and drawing exclusively with my non dominant left hand in early 2000. Atwood's lines below were explored in the print I created.
The poet has come back to being a poet after decades of being virtuous instead...Welcome back, my dear. Time to resume our vigil, time to unlock the cellar door.
To understand humanities intuitive, 'primitive' past I looked to the earliest known drawings (and prints) created some 35,000 years ago in the Chauvet Caves of Southern France. (see image to the left) I also took notes and made sketches from Werner Herzog's 2010 documentary film, Cave of Forgotten Dreams for which he was granted the rare privilege of filming inside the caves.
I also investigated the groundbreaking work of archaelogist, Marija Gimbutas who explored Neolithic Goddess culture, mythology, linguistics and folklore in her book The Language of the Goddess. Gimbutas writes:
Hands and feet symbolize the touch of the Goddess; they impart her energy.
The color red is the symbol of life.
Figurines occasionally have enormous hands seemingly imparting divine energy or spells.
In the Chauvet Caves are walls containing two different kinds of palm prints, one kind was made by pressing the fleshy round part of the palm of a hand onto the wall's surface and the other by spraying the color red around the hand.
In my etching/monoprint I made a full hand print (in black) using my right hand to represent the left brain dominant, logical society of today and another print (in red) using the fleshy base of my left palm to represent the intuitive, right brained world of our Paleolithic ancestors. In between the two hand prints I printed an etching of a root like symbol to connect the two worlds; both the rational, present day society and our intuitive past.
It is important that we, as a culture are presented with a vision of this possibility. We need to acknowledge and face our shadow side, our fears, our left hand and yes, stand vigil at the cellar door so that once again the poet has two hands, the dexterous and the sinister.
This piece also symbolizes how important the role of the artist and our imagination can be, especially in today's society. By making our mark, by critical thinking, skepticism and risk taking I ask each one of you to consider how important art, the imagination and the artist can be in North America today.
We must always learn from and study the example of other peoples throughout the world, but we do have to analyze our own conditions here in the belly of the beast. We, as conscious artists, must combat the torrent of mind-control with a real alternative - murals, songs, dance, poetry that contain different values and have educational content as well as beauty...everything is political.
Miranda Bergman, Mural, Mural on the Wall from Art on the Line, Essays by Artists about the Point Where Their Art & Activism Intersect, Edited by Jack Hirschman
VERSE TO IMAGE EXHIBITION Riverside Community Arts Association Center Riverside, California Exhibition dates: March 22 – April 21 Reception: April 5, 6-9pm (during Riverside Arts Walk)