For three weeks in April, I had the privilege of being an artist in residence at the Skopelos Foundation for the Arts (SkopArt) on the island of Skopelos, Greece. Skopelos is a 5 ½ hour bus and ferry trip from Athens. I was warmly welcomed at the ferry dock by Gloria Carr, founder and Director of SkopArt, and Jill Somers, Associate Director. Gloria and Jill treated me like a long-time friend throughout my residency, taking me to gorgeous monasteries, beaches with clear blue green water, restaurants with calamari and other goodies, and even an (unsuccessful) hunt for more glitter for my print. Dinners were a congenial family affair with Gloria, Jill, her partner Yorgos, and three year old daughter Zoe. Laughter, wine and friendship flowed throughout the evenings.
I timed my residency to occur during Greek Easter (which follows a lunar calendar). Easter is THE religious holiday in Greece filled with processions, religious services, and parties with friends, family, dancing, roasted baby goat, and lots of the local alcohol called tipperoe. It was an opportunity to experience Greece and the culture at its most festive.
Most days, however, were spent in the studio. Greek culture, in the form of Byzantine icons, mosaics and early Christian crosses, was the inspiration for my print project. Since my trip to India last fall, I had continued to think about the many forms of religious expression and the functions religion plays in cultures throughout the world. This diptych print project became a natural extension of this line of thought. I was familiar with Byzantine icons and the importance of the Greek Orthodox religion in Greece. (95% of Greeks are Greek Orthodox.) Therefore it was no surprise I should work with the opulent gold and deep reds found in Greek Orthodox churches and icons. The blood cell image is one I have used many times in my artwork—it is such a visceral image to which we can all relate. Of course, it also has significant Christian relevance as does the central cross image. This image was distilled from a collection of early Christian crosses found in a museum in Athens. The dots are reminiscent of Byzantine mosaics, central Aboriginal Australian dot paintings (that I had studied and been fascinated by in the mid-90’s) and even the old-fashioned dot candy on the paper strips from my childhood. The left side of the diptych forms a cohesive, solid cross while the right side begins to dissolve and break apart (or perhaps come together and solidify). This is the ongoing, changing dynamic of religion.
Earlier I had mentioned a field trip in search of glitter. I had, on a whim, brought a small container of glitter with me, but this was only enough for 3 prints of the edition. Unable to find additional glitter in Skopelos, the remaining prints were printed with multiple layers of gold ink. I’ve included both images here. You may decide for yourself which version you prefer!