While the Calligraphy portfolio was born out of developing and learning how to employ this new technique, River Poems is the fluent expression of ideas that comes with knowing a process well. The artist recycles some of the original plate forms, which directly reference memories, genealogy and every day objects, and has added over 50 new glyphs that are looser and more self-referential in meaning: two hands and a thick horizontal wavy line are forms that appear in the artist’s sculptural work, some abstract shapes are informed by studio scraps and debris, while others take their form from specialized studio tools. The structured plate arrangements are juxtaposed with lyrical paper form compositions, which describe space, place, celestial and mythical forms.
Unlike Calligraphy, the artist has chosen to give River Poems an overarching structure. The prints were created as pairs that address certain topics or ideas—debris, void, the studio, writing, painting—and often a topic would be re-explored in another diptych, almost rhythmically. The artist has created the pairs along a time continuum beginning in the center with one half moving back into the past and the other moving forward into the future.
Drawing from memories, genealogy, and the day-to-day, the artist creates symbols and characters, forming her own pseudo-calligraphy practice that is both deeply personal and relatable. A red bounding box is appropriated from Chinese calligraphy practice books, a long upside down “U” embodies the hair of two close relatives, the shape of the tab that tears
off the top of Lansinoh breastmilk storage bags is what it is—and something that holds great significance for the artist and many working mothers. The shaped plates are composed according to a loose narrative and with physical spaces in mind: imagined landscapes or interiors that are purposefully arranged but not intended to be on display – a storage unit, a suitcase, a tomb.
This structured approach of plate arrangement is counterbalanced by the immediate and intuitive process of cutting and composing imagery from paper. The paper forms convey movement and temperament, are heaving, deadpan, weightless, graceful, funny. Together they create a second composition, partially concealing the narrative formed by the copper plate symbols. The third and final composition emerges from the unforeseeable overlap of the plate formations and chine collé forms, and is revealed only once the piece is complete.