Step by Step

::: By Hand and On Foot :::

La Penitente

Tomorrow, Friday, July 19, I’ll be participating in a very cool event here in Santa Cruz: steamroller printing.
As part of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History’s Art That Moves event, twenty-two local printmakers will be using a steamroller to make prints all afternoon and into the night. Printing with big equipment requires a big print, so I acquired a 2 foot by 3 foot piece of linoleum, and set about carving a new image.

I still have a whole slew of ideas from my various trips to Spain waiting for something to happen, and this print comes from that mental file.

La Penitente is based on a carved processional figure in La Iglesia de la Magdelena in Zamora; I saw the original at the end of my half-pilgrimage on the Via de la Plata in 2011. (Zamora, by the way, is chock-full of marvelous Romanesque churches. Go if you can.)

Here is the original, from a postcard.
La Magdelena

I loved the detail in her woven straw garment, as well as her operatic pose and her expression.

For this print, I decided to replace her head with a skull. This may be a result of living in Santa Cruz for five years. Portland may put a bird on it; in Santa Cruz, with its surf and skateboard culture, you’re more likely to hear “Put a skull on it.”

While I was drawing the original sketch, Sarah-Hope came over and observed that if I just moved her hand a bit, it would look like she was pregnant, which also seemed like a good idea. I made it so.

La Penitente
Unprinted linoleum block, ready to go

So, what is this all about?

Is it a meditation on the cyclical nature of life, the endless circle of life and death?

Is it a reference to the ongoing war against womens’ reproductive freedom in this country?

Is it just cool to ‘put a skull on it’?

Yes, yes, and yes.

Come see it being printed, 1:30 – 3:30 pm on Cedar Street, here in Santa Cruz. Look for the steamroller; you can’t miss it!

2 Comments

  1. This is TOO funny, Melissa! Can’t wait to see her get printed tomorrow!! ‘Put some ink on it’…..

  2. We’re “expecting” a great print!

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