Today I went hunting through some of my boxes to find some old prints. I didn't find all of them, but I found enough to put together a little blog on some prints I made while living in Taiwan.
I don't know where the other ones are- My things from the past six years all packed away in little containers marked "Seamail" from the various countries I have lived in. Having them all in one place and opened is both exciting and daunting. Perhaps once I have a place with all my stuff in one place I will finally feel like I have arrived home. Anyway, I digress.
This is one of the earliest prints I have- when I took a university course on Printmaking for the Elementary school classroom. This was made by scratching a piece of plexiglass with a pin, and running it through the press. At the time, I had never been to any Muslim countries and really didn't have any desire to live in one. But we were told we had to choose one subject over the semester and I chose mosques. Why? Because they looked neat. This one here is a mosque I dream to go to: The Great Mosque of Isfahan. Printed in 1994, sixteen years ago! I still haven't been to Isfahan...Yet!
Fire Cracker Choice High
The first print in Taiwan- that I can show you. You see, when I first moved to Taiwan, I went to a cheap art store and bought the cheapest paint because I still hadn't paid off my student loans. But the paint would fleck off in these really weird patterns- Some colours more than others. When I asked my Chinese artist coworker about it he said, "You sure it isn't a cockroach eating your paint? Cheap paint here is cut with vegetable oil. you have to by the more expensive stuff. I won't tell you the story, because it was a gross one, but my coworker was right. Anyway, all of those prints hit the garbage.
I arrived in Taiwan just before Chinese New Year in 1998. I found this wrapper on the ground the day after a fireworks blitz. I picked it up with some other bits of silver and gold paper someone threw on the ground. A few months later, my Taiwanese friend George came over and screamed! Apparently I had picked up auspicious ghost money, and the fact that I had picked it up and collaged it into artwork was my certain death. The Gods must have forgiven me, I've been lucky so far. (Knock on wood!)
I love Taiwan Milk
This is one of the only prints I've ever done where I needed to carve three blocks. There were a few hits and lots of misses since I wasn't properly set up (working on a living room floor) and eyeballing everything. This was actually the milk label from the milk we bought in Taiwan. This will hang in my kitchen someday!
The Bayan Temple
Rene and I decided to go to Angkor Wat in Cambodia one Chinese New Year. I made this print (another one with three blocks) in anticipation of our trip.
In fact, I made about fifty million of them.
Oh, and this one too.
Then began the cartoon series. There is a story behind this one! I was teaching a class of eleven year olds one afternoon, and two boys could not get their noses out of a Japanese comic book. Anytime I turned around they whipped it out to read a few more panels before I caught them.
Finally, I said, "Look. If I see that book one more time, I'm going to take it away and never give it back. It will be mine. Understood?"
They nodded. Five minutes later the book was out.
So I grabbed it and took it into the teacher's room where they couldn't fish it out of my teaching stuff. But Taiwanese kids are so good natured, they just said, "Sorry teacher, sorry. We know, we know." I really liked these boys, and when they came to the teacher's door to ask for the comic book one more time with their mother in tow, I made them tell me how much they adored me and other embarrassing things to many giggles, and eventually I gave back their comic.
The next week, the boys brought me the same comic book, dropped it on my desk and cheekily told me they didn't need it anymore, I could have it now. I laughed, but then I started flipping through the book and I really liked the way the panels were drawn. I made these prints and a few others (Somewhere in a box) and gave the boys a print each in good spirit. Thank you, Little Taiwanese boys! The next few images come from that comic book, Little Bow Wow.
Coffee cup on Japanese printed paper, from the best paper store in Taipei.
I weaved Chinese newspapers into checkers for the background.
If you look closely, you can see the characters.
Man, Dog and a bowl of Soup.
No two are the same! I made about twelve of these. There is a second one (Somewhere in a box) of the dog and the soup, with fish flying over it to show it had gone bad. If I find it, I'll add it to the blog. Promise!
I kid you not, when I tried to photograph this one, it kept blowing away... The characters mean "wssh - wshh" the sound of the wind.
How to Make Sushi!
And the sushi print, with instructions on how to make sushi in Chinese. I love this one. It will hang in my kitchen one day too.