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As a sculptor, I tend to view everything in terms of volume and form. With two-dimensional work, I look for a way to address the physicality of the paper itself or graphically convey volume and form. For our latest etching, I wanted to revisit the vessel form of an earlier print, Relaxed Standard. Because a vessel generally holds liquid and as a nod to the printmaking medium, it was logical to imagine it filled with black ink. The title worked because of the wordplay—an implied directive to the printer—and as an echo of my youth growing up in a house full of antiques. After the vessel plate was created, we experimented with various ways to incorporate texture into the negative space. Initially, we considered filling the background with a scan of a vintage yellowed newspaper; but I decided that it would be more conceptually accurate if the words had been generated by a quill pen. In my family’s trove of genealogical documents, I found two books containing sermons handwritten in the mid-1800’s by my great-great-grandfather, a Presbyterian minister. We scanned and doubled them up to create a denser background texture—one in which the words were still somewhat legible but not distractingly so. My mother, especially, would have been thrilled by this ancestral collaboration and rather amused that her secular son had finally embraced words delivered from a church lectern!
Bill Thompson, January 2023