So when I took a class in lithography and made an image of my hand, wrist cut open and spewing out Stabbing Westward lyrics which were not covert in their suicidal themes, one would think, "oh she is really depressed". Yet it occurred to no one, not even me at the time.
Let me preface this with a fact: I was not and never have been suicidal. But maybe the subconscious artistic side of me had some issues, that I will never know.
The lithograph announced to the world, "I'm depressed, detached, help" yet like the rock it was made on, it stayed silent, cold, impenetrable like myself.
Have you even done stone lithography? First you get a 70-100 pound limestone rock. Then, you use a huge metal circle with a handle, add grinding sand to the rock, and like a tilt-o-whirl, you use the circle to whirl away rough spots and it takes hours of muscle-tiring effort to erase previous images, bumps, imperfections. Once dry, you use different specialty brushes and tools to paint an image on the rock; erasing or re-doing your image is not an option so there's no turning back, mistakes will be permanent. After drawing, you add wood rosin to the stone, and then you mix gum arabic with acid (hands shaking as you pour the acid, trying not to focus too much on the warnings- caution, poison, toxic, danger, severe burns, combustible, fire and brimstone......) and brush on the toxic cocktail, more in dark areas, less in light. It etches the design permanently in stone. Eventually you roll on ink and use a bone crushing press to make newsprint copies, crappy copies, and finally a few good prints before going over the stone with the circle-sander thing, doing your best to remove all traces of your image so they don't appear as ghost images in your next design.
I hated that lithography class. A lover of art, that class simply sucked. It was so much work with so little result, with so much potential for not just mistakes such as a blurry image, but crushed fingers, acid burns, damaged lungs.
I see this class now as a symbol for the depression I later was diagnosed with and treated for. Yep, my loathing of symbolism is here to smack me in the face.
|Making a lithograph (image from australianmuseum.net.au)|
I found my litho print a few years ago, and wasn't surev what to think. I was a little indignant- why did no one say "hey are you ok?" I was a little humored, "ha ha silly old me" and partly saddened, reflecting back on those dark days. I threw away the print, as if tossing away the last bits, the ghostly image seeping through, to say, I'm done. I haven't felt depressed like that since then; it is manageable and I can say I am generally happy. The person that drew that hand seems like someone else, not me, and I'm perfectly fine with feeling alienated from her.
But I still think lithography