Madonna Etchings

The Madonna prints begin with contrasting themes: on one side is the joyous love of mother and son in Madonna and Child; on the other is the solemn pain of the Sorrowful Madonna. These are traditional images found in countless Lithuanian churches (and on the fireplace mantle of my childhood home). I opted for zinc plate etchings over the traditional panel work because I wanted the work to be additive, that is, I wanted to layer images over each other. I revert to archaic tools and techniques when building out the base –I like things that are old. I etch real flowers into the metal through bees wax and use raw sugar to decorate her ornate crown. When I am satisfied, I make a single print using an etching press. This is where I pause–the images are beautiful, but the emotional, spiritual undercurrent is missing.

On the Madonna and Child I scrape out the faces and carefully polish these areas making them smooth and blank, then replace them with the shiny Rolls Royce hood ornament I admired as a child and a photo of my mother as a young woman. On the Sorrowful Madonna the seven swords puncturing her heart become a thousand, the idyllic background deteriotes under a harsh acid wash. I press on, further altering the images as they become more complicated, less recognizable. I finally merge the two plates into a single print. The result is an abstraction of the original images where combination of sorrow and joy culminates into a somewhat serene visual, that emotional tug I was searching for.