redhanded: a songe forre the loste
~ in exhibition ~
rehanded: a songe forre the loste---exhibition proposal
redhanded: a songe forre the loste is a series of thirteen line etchings accompanied by thirteen letterpressed poems, and seventeen pages of text, and a handmade clamshell box.
I made redhanded as a wailing wall and witness, a war memorial and place of mourning and remembrance for wilderness, childhood, and children broken and lost to the consensual profanities and commonplace devastation with which the adults of my species circumscribe the living world.
With images and words, I have attempted to draw what it feels like for the child trapped in extreme, ongoing, and unpredictable terror and the lasting effects upon childhood and nature. The line etchings, poems, and text of redhanded: a songe forre the lost are an opening, bridge, and pathway. Like Viktor Frankl’s search for meaning, redhanded is a testimony.
Children live everywhere in the presence of habitual brutality, unremitting dread, and the willful disregard and destruction of their living, sustaining world. This affects how we come to perceive the world around us. A life safe from constant dread and destruction is the essential right to life of childhood, of every child, and of wild nature herself.
The working title for redhanded was: the undreside of familye values and othre anaerobicke socialle systemmes. By these values and systems I mean such things as: family, utopian and gated community, ghetto, nation, social clique, church and military, refugee and concentration camp, cultural group, conventional wisdom and consentual reality, political party, etc. The anaerobic social systems invented in our own minds are a caution to each of us not to believe everything we think. From this vantage point, any system that has an inside, an outside, and which controls the way between, is anaerobic.
redhanded reflects my own formative experiences and those of numberless others. I mean to engage the often addled, transfixed, and compliant adult humyn world. I intend to honour those who did not, do not, and will not survive our unfounded belief that power and freedom come without accountability for the equal rights and regard for all living things, and most of all for children, childhood, and wilderness everywhere. I believe that, as adults, we must learn to equitably uphold and honour our place in the autonomous mysteries of childhood, of the wilderness inside and around us, and of all we are not yet equipped to comprehend.
There are three alternate doorways through which to enter and understand the complete redhanded – the images, the poems, and the narrative. I have made it in this way because each of us has different pathways to understanding. I want redhanded to be as clear as possible. Through the drawn and hand set matrixes, and in printing the editions, I can put alternative perspectives into the hands of the random many rather than the chosen few. In engaging the senses in this way, these experiences may no longer be entirely hidden from view. The traditional printmaking methods seem most capable of involving all the senses, and I find that slowing down the humyns, including myself, is usually a good idea.
The complete redhanded: a songe forre the loste is comprised of 43 pieces. It includes thirteen 18” x 12” line etchings on 24” x 18” arches cover papers, thirteen companion poems and seventeen pages of text letterpressed with handset type on 18”x 12” kizukishi papers backed with 24” x 18” lokta extra thin papers. redhanded is harboured in a hand-built clamshell box bound with a bookcloth design, made in the shibori resist/discharge method, in black amish cloth backed with mulberry paper. The box is lined with black ingress antiqued paper and black silk broadcloth feather-stitched in red silk thread. I made the whole of redhanded, in an edition of twenty-three, at hellbendre presse~leathrewingeditionnes in the years of 2000 to 2007 and one third, occidental reckoning.
In exhibition, redhanded is like a book on the wall. The 43 framed pieces of redhanded: a songe forre the loste require 77 running feet of wall space. They are hung in the same sequence in which they appear in the portfolio, as described in the key, which is provided. The frames are wooden, 28.5” x 21.25” x 1.5,” with attached wooden cleats for mounting. The thirteen image pieces are matted and framed in the usual manner. The text and poem pages are to be put into the matching frames provided, using the dowels and ¾” wooden clothespins provided, which are then laid in the small handmade clay hands already attached within their frames.
For exhibition, a display case made to contain the handmade clamshell box is provided. In the display case, the clamshell box is held partly open with two cherry wood posts to reveal the interior. One of the prints, over-laid with its translucent poem, is shown beside the box as an example of how the images and poems appear in the portfolio editions. The display case is handmade of cherry wood, with a plexiglass cover. It measures 46.5” long, 32.5” wide, and 18.25” high. It requires approximately 36 square feet of floor space, and is placed on one large pedestal, or four corner pedestals, approximately 3 feet high. Thus far, each redhanded exhibition has been installed by Bruce Greene and me, with the able assistance of the gallery staff, and we are happy to continue this lovely and ceremonial practice, whenever possible.
Because of its inherent and universal witness, redhanded: a songe forre the loste is intended to be exhibited in its entirety, to a broad and varied audience. The capability to show this piece in its full power of social realism and commentary is important, as redhanded is meant to be seen through its three paths of entry: drawing, poetry, and text, for its full meaning and intent.
Printmakers, collectors, teachers, and curators have found redhanded a provocative vehicle for thoughtful discussion. Because of its power as witness, redhanded is well-suited for related educational programs, and I have given numerous gallery talks, visiting artist programs, and talks and demonstrations with printmaking, drawing, painting, psychology, and writing classes.
“Her exquisitely rendered etchings summon mysterious worlds inhabited by frightful and grotesque men, malevolent cats personifying the mothers, and terror-stricken children. McWhirter’s riveting images are captivating for the dark message that they invoke. This, combined with an individual style, but one that invokes the work of Hieronymus Bosch, Pieter Brueghel, and William Blake, results in work that is alluring…” Marilyn Satin Kushner, Curator and Head of the Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, New-York Historical Society, New York, NY.
“In purely artistic terms, her work appeals and is accessible on many levels. There’s so much hidden in the imagery…I was fascinated by the work. I had never seen penmanship like that. McWhirter has found a universal truth, a truthfulness about the disturbing things that can happen to those who are innocent and unprotected. That’s what makes it so powerful…” Mark Pascale, Curator in the Department of Prints and Drawings, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL.
While in progress, the line etchings of redhanded were exhibited in the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Asheville Art Museum, Greenhill Center for the Arts, Asheville Folk Art Center, and several less formal guest artist/lecture showings at the Chicago Art Institute, UNC Chapel Hill, Guilford College, UNC Asheville, Penland School of Craft, etc. Davidson Galleries, Seattle, WA, exhbibited a selection of redhanded prints with the entire portfolio in August, 2014.
redhanded has been exhibited in its entirety four times since its completion in 2007. The first exhibition was 10/2008 at the Holden Gallery, Warren Wilson College, Swannanoa, NC. The second exhibition was in the Tucker Cooke Gallery at UNC Asheville, 2-3/2010, for which Robert Tynes, director of the UNCA gallery, made an excellent exhibition catalogue of a complete in-hand view of redhanded: a songe forre the loste, including the curator and gallery director essays. (This exhibition catalogue can be ordered by contacting me.) The third exhibition was 9/2011, in the State College of Florida Fine Art Gallery, in Bradenton, FL. The fourth exhibition was 9/2012, in the Traylor Gallery, Berea College, Berea, KY. Each time it has been exhibited, redhanded has received very favorable reviews and responses.
I offer redhanded: a songe forre the loste, its abiding witness and memorial, as a way to communicate through the voices of the children, childhood, and wilderness lost to the adult humyn world. Knowing or inadvertent, each of us participates in the brutal and unmitigated destruction of the living world so vital and necessary to every child and to childhood itself. I mean to hold up the kind of mirror that allows us to see ourselves more truly and inclusively. Perhaps, we as a species may yet come to be more mindful of how our commonplace decisions and prejudices affect those who cannot speak for themselves, whose voices we choose not to heed, and whose presence we continue to disregard by too much regarding our own. The right to life is inherent in all the living earth and in all her children, humyn and other~wise.
~ koreloy wildrekinde-mcwhirter