corn fiber (art)

One of my goals for this year is to make 2-3 small works per week (while simultaneously working on larger pieces). I'm a week late in getting started, but here goes with the first idea to explore.

I am ambivalent about corn. For one thing, the monoculture of farmland has all but destroyed the prairies I love. And a case can be made that corn has become too much a part of our diet (check out Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma). On the other hand, since my husband works in the corn processing industry, I am dependent on corn for my support. So it seems like a natural subject for an artist to explore.

First thing I did was to carve this stamp out of Blick's E-Z Cut printing blocks. The block has been inked so the pattern shows up. This material is very easy to carve, although it does crumble a bit around the edges. And don't lay it on fine furniture, the plasticizers in one messed up the finish on my dining room table.

For the first prints, I poured some Setacolor transparent paint on a plate and used a roller to ink the block--a traditional printmaking method. I printed it on several scraps with this result:

All of these pictures are keystoned because I shot them on the fly as I was working. In real life, the prints do have straight edges.

I also wanted to try using the block as a rubbing plate with Shiva paintsticks. I have successfully done this in the past, I think it worked here, too.

This method allows more color variations than using a roller. I also tried painting different colors onto the block, but you have to work really fast to prevent it from drying.

So now I have a pile of pieces with this stamp on them. The first one I played with resulted in this:

It has thread stitching, and measures around 5"x7". I like it, but I'm not sure that it really makes any statement about how I feel about corn. Is that because of my wishy-washiness? Or do I just get caught up in the elements of design, the process of making art, that any intended message gets sublimated so much that it no longer exist? Do I care? I think at this point I want to make good art more than I want to make a political statement. So read into the pieces what you will...


kathy said...

I think I read somewhere that learning techniques is learning the language of art. Maybe we have to do that before we have anything coherent to say!
This block looks like a lot of work carving. Remember Joan Lintault? I think her corn was probably a screen print from a photo. And I don't think she had anything particular to say in the pieces we saw, do you? But I do like your ear of corn and your prints!

bj parady said...

I know...but if I'm working toward approaching galleries, it means creating stuff I can write in artspeak about. And I think the pieces do say something, I'm just not sure what!
The EZ carve blocks are like carving butter--quite easy. A little time, but not that hard. Dick Blick in Evansville has them I'm sure as I've bought them there.

Nana B said...

BJ, I liked what you did, I have wanted to try making my own stamps/carvings to use with Paintstiks. I actually work with the distributor of Paintstiks and we are constantly on the lookout for people that use the product in different ways. Whether it is the paint or the rubbing plates. Keep up the great creativity and I'll keep watching your blog. Mary