In a recent clean-up effort at Zygote Press, we were all tasked with the job of emptying out our flat files temporarily. In the long process of sifting through my two large horizontal drawers containing a near-decade’s worth of printed accumulation, I found a plate that I etched a handful of years ago. It’s a zillion wobbly lines.
It was a morning where I found myself less motivated to sort through the stacks and piles of prints and papers, and a morning that left me with a week still on the ticking clock ahead of the deadline for emptying out my two drawers. On another gray kick, I decided to print up the plate in relief. As I pushed and pulled the brayer back and forth through the ink, and across the plate, I contemplated about how little time I have actually spent with this plate. It looked so neglected, and prematurely stashed away in the abyss of later. I’ve actually invested more time drawing and etching in the lines than I ever have in the printing of the plate. And before this morning, I never printed it in relief — only intaglio.
It was a couple years ago, and the lines then were gray on white paper. Now the space was nearly absorbed by gray, and the thin lines revealing the paper were warmly white. The image changed right there before my eyes from a charged and noisy pile-up of graphite lines, to a smokey and soft atmospheric landscape of hazy gray subtly interfered with whispering lines of white. I think that’s printmaking’s grip on me, the many iterations and possibilities of printed outcome, even within a single plate. I can be a maker of many images. I can change moods, and meanings with ink and time.
And this print is my right now. It’s a softening of demands, and a craving for stillness. It’s a mandatory carving out of peace. Making a space to catch my breath, and look with hope towards the distant but certain horizon.