For my Materials and Media in Art Therapy class, I am doing a body of work on shadows and shadow puppets. I had to do a research paper about it that I just finished last Thursday (hopefully, unless I have revisions to make), a presentation about puppets, and now I am working on my body of work that will be due at the end of the semester. I have been wracking my brain all semester to come up with a way to combine my studio class and this body of work. I have written about it before, how it's so hard to work on so many disconnected projects, so it has in a way been a semester-long goal to find a way to integrate at least two aspects of the program.
Well! Last week we had a demo in the printmaking class where we were shown how to burn a screen using shadows!
So this week I cut out a figure and burned the screen using the shadow. There were complications with each one I did today. It was a pretty exhausting day, because I was burning the screens and printing and washing and burning and printing and washing ... PHEW!
The figure I cut out was based on the image below, not that it matters, the shadows are pretty unrecognizable! But this is from my sketchbook.
And now for the prints from today...
This is the first attempt. You can kind of see some of the lines (it is a mirror image), but I didn't expose it long enough. It still looks kind of cool, your brain wants to make images of a large floating face and a small person's body in there, which is interesting. Also, maybe a hand. So this one was done in ideal conditions, ie it was done inside under a window in direct sunlight, other than it was only exposed for 1 minute.
This was made in less-than-ideal conditions. After cleaning off the screen and putting new emulsion on, ready to make another exposure, I realized I had run out of sunlight. It was getting close to 4pm and the sun was disappearing behind the buildings. Luckily there was some sun outside on the sidewalk, so my teacher and I ran out there to expose the screen. We had not accounted for wind. The shadow was all over the screen, and not much exposed, as you can see! Duh - we are in Chicago, mere blocks from the lake! It's late Fall! Of course there is a lot of wind... Also, I messed up and accidentally blew out some of the emulsion when I was cleaning it after it had been exposed. I still like it, it kind of embodies the feeling of a shadow, I think (?).
Today I felt truly lucky to be at this school and in this city. There are always tours going through the building during classes. Today, they saw my teacher and I running into the hallway to sit under the perfect light for 1 minute and then race back into the studio. It was very exciting. I can only imagine what they thought. I can only imagine what the people thought who saw us huddling around my little screen on the sidewalk, desperately trying to protect it from the wind!
But in essence this goes along with what I was writing in my research paper. Shadows are inherently transient and ephemeral. You can't really "catch" them, but they will come back when conditions are right. Maybe next time I will be able to get a good exposure on the screen and I will have really caught a cool shadow. Also, after this, I think I am going to get bring my glass casserole dish and fill it with water and agitate it over the photo emulsion and see what happens with those shadows, I bet that will be cool.
I walked home from class just feeling good. I looked up at the skyline as I turned the corner from the building and couldn't believe this was my life! Okay, it's a little colder than I like, but there is something delicious in the sharp cold air - I definitely remember liking Fall, even though I hate winter. Something feels so good about it. And today was great day, besides!