Having a child and a business are two great things that don't always go great together. When my daughter was born almost seven years ago, the best laid plans to preserve the studio fell into shambles and there were rocky periods of wondering if I could pull off printing and mothering on a daily basis. Fast forward to now and I'm beginning to see the ways that the two disparate identities can come together as one. Jo has been experimenting with printmaking at the studio, where she can often be found after school and on Saturdays. I'm not always convinced that she takes delight in the process as her attitude can be quite cool, case in point our latest collaboration. We were asked to contribute a piece to the You Are Beautiful exhibition at Galerie F here in Chicago. You are probably familiar with these little stickers, and this show is a celebration of the success of the campaign. All pieces submitted are 12x12" square and represent various media.
I thought this would be a great collaborative project, and an opportunity to explore printing on fabric, something we've been experimenting with this year. I wanted the opportunity to work together on a project that promoted a very basic concept of accepting oneself and recognizing beauty where it exists. Having a daughter is a constant reminder that societal pressures on women and girls to conform to ideals of beauty and behavior has not lessened, and that it begins at a very young age. I constantly strive to expose Jo to women who do marvelous things, from writing books and making art to seeking advanced degrees in science to better the lives of others.
But of course my effort to read into the project didn't make for a smooth start. The night we had to get moving on this project, Jo was completely uninspired and had no interest in working with me. I resigned myself to creating a print on my own and pulled out books and sketch paper to get going. Not surprisingly, seeing my thumbnail sketch efforts and fumbling with a compass was just enough to pique the eye of a curious six year old, and Jo quickly started to put together her own ideas. Her sketches involved lots of hearts and circles, which doesn't make for the easiest type form on press:
I pulled the smaller type and let her find some that would still spell You Are Beautiful even when twisted into other shapes. We could almost create a circle and with the help of a cache of triangular furniture, we got it together.
See our printer's devil in action... just tall enough to run the Vandercook.
We printed the muslin at a larger size then tore it down and heat set the print afterwards so that it would be 12" square. Here's the final! We'll be heading to the opening of the show to check out all of the other great pieces that make up the exhibition and to share in the positive message.