Space Galleria in Chiba City is once again holding an invitational group show. Two years ago artists were invited to create their own artwork using digital prints by Takeshi Ishikawa. This year 23 artists have been given sheets of beige recycled paper made from milk cartons. This paper is actually very special, because it was made by people with disabilities at Ma’arui Hiroba (Japanese site) in Chiba City. Participants at Ma’arui Hiroba do more than recycle paper; they also do Ma’arui Hiroba Activities (Japanese site) like the people who were featured in the Art as a Haven for Happiness exhibition.
To be honest, I did not know that when I started and I went ahead and made my own paper! Masako Otani, the gallery owner, quickly corrected me and sent me some paper. Thank goodness she did! It is much nicer than the paper I made. All of the paper she sent me was either B5 or A4 in size.
This was more challenging than expected. I wanted to do something using milk or about milk since the paper was made from milk cartons. First I remembered the secret writing that I played with as a child. Do you remember drawing with lemon juice, letting it dry, and then exposing it to heat, such as that of an iron, to see the hidden writing? I vaguely recalled that it could be done with milk, so I tried. The lines became a very pale brown that could barely be seen against the beige, textured paper. I tried adding lemon juice to the milk to increase the acidity and hopefully the intensity of the brown. This did not work either. Then I tried drawing in white oil pastel to get the colour of milk. The texture of the paper was too strong, and the beige was too close too white to get it to visually pop. Would a little blue help? Not much. I tried adding a liquid wash to get the white to pop out more. Not much luck there. Then I accidentally discovered that ink drawings could be seen through the paper if water was added to the ink. The paper absorbed the liquid, and the ink saturated the surface and the middle layer.
This was the front of the paper with the white oil pastel. You can see a bit of a pattern peeking through from the back.
What was that pattern? An abstraction of the wind patterns in Asia, focusing on the Gobi, China, and Japan. Who knew that the pen had water-soluble ink?
This was supposed to represent milk, but the texture and the colour of the paper did not co-operate. I drew on the back to add some pattern and colour to the background.
What is this honeycomb pattern? The chemical formula for phthalates, a kind of plastic that adds to the pollution in the air. Oops! I just noticed that I spelled it wrong on the drawing. You would not have noticed if I didn’t tell you, right?
The pattern came from an idea I had to cover some drawings in my Gobi Pollution series with chemical symbols of some of the pollution in the air and in our food. Here I drew a glass of milk since drawing a more abstract version with only colour was not as easy as I expected. i also plan on doing a similar image in some etchings in the future.
This is another one that I want to do an etching of in the future. The chemical formula is drawn in gold ink not because it is valuable, but because the plastics are part of the pollution attached to the yellow dust that is blown throughout Asia. Think of this as China and Japan divided by water with us drowning from pollution in the middle. The liquid could also be white, polluted milk if a connection to the paper is needed.
This was the image that started the other figurative ones. I have had this image in my head for a while now and want to make an etching of it of course, but I am also thinking of how to mix this style that I use in my etchings with my colourful abstract style in one large drawing. Not sure how yet…
As you can see from the advertising and my drawings, this show should have a lot of variety in it. Some people have made sculptures; some have made relief prints. Last year’s challenge was amazing in its variety. The artists are a nice group of people, too.
When can you meet some of the artists? Some will be there on September 3, the first day. (I will try to be there later in the afternoon.) Many will be there on September 5 and 6. (I made a mistake with my schedule and made plans for Saturday, September 5 but I will try to be there later in the afternoon if I can. I will be there on Sunday, September 6.) Some friends wanted me to go on a weekday, so I think I will also go on Wednesday, September 9. I have also promised to be there the following weekend on September 12 and 13. Some people have plans to go to the bar Topper’s later. That is a lot of travelling to Chiba!
Space Galleria is across the street from the Chiba City Museum of Art. It is on the second floor of a red brick building. A small sign is usually at street level. Look for the stairs on the left side of the building. Sorry, there is not elevator.
I hope to see you there! If so, we can discuss my plans for a solo show in November at Gallery Camellia in Ginza, Tokyo.