We harvested these Westslope Cutthroat Trout and Arctic Grayling from Lake Rogers, MT while ice fishing. The grayling are mere fingerlings, and mature fish survive by eating the young of the year, leaving the smartest or fastest to survive. Savage as it sounds, this piece presents the scene in a light that is peaceful, even contemplative.
This piece is made from two sheets of very thin, hemp reinforced kozo (mulberry) paper. The background sheet is hand-dyed with fiber dyes allowing air pockets to form and resist the dye, giving streaks of light. The foreground was created by rubbing another sheet of the same paper upon fish that had been carefully cleaned and then painted with intaglio ink. The colors of the ink and dye are mixed from basic pigments to complement and contrast one another harmoniously. The two sheets are wet-mounted together using the same methods that Chinese calligraphers have used for millennia. Once dried, the final markings and eyes are painted in with watercolor and India ink.
A work like this is best experienced by thinking and feeling side by side. Feel the peace and tranquility that come from the colors and lines of the composition. Analyze the details of the fish: the scales, fins, teeth, lateral line. Consider the way of nature where the strong eat the weak and reflect on how there is a harmony to nature and yet something that is disturbing, perhaps even wrong. Return to feeling, noting the change in disposition that has come as a result of viewing this piece. Think. Feel. Reflect on how art can change the way one sees the world.
Hand-dyed Ma/麻 (Hemp) Rice Paper
Three works come together to form this original. Each begins as a thin, white, sheet of hemp-reinforced kozo paper. The background sheet is hand-dyed with fiber dyes allowing air pockets to form and resist the dye, giving streaks of light. The middle layer is a hand-printed length of American Pondweed harvested from Parksville Lake, TN. The foreground is a gyotaku of one brown trout and two rainbow trout harvested from the Watauga River, TN.
These three are wet-mounted together to form a unity that has tremendous depth in spite of the fact that together they are not much thicker than a regular sheet of paper.
All of the trout colors are mixed from the same root colors so that even though they are very different, they are incredibly harmonious with each other. The color of the dye along with the undyed light streaks presents a flowing, underwater world where the pondweed and trout are all flowing together and moving toward the light at the top right of the page.
Ultimately, this piece evokes feelings of hope, progress, optimism, flourishing, or tranquility.
Finally, the frame was hand-made from quarter sawn white oak harvested in Georgia. Master woodworker David Macallister specializes in Mission style. From the joinery to the stain and/or fuming, the construction is meticulously patterned after Gustav Stickley's well known work.