Beulah, homeless note, 8” x 10”, note transferred metal, 1989
For the past thirty years one aspect of my work has involved the transfer of text and images to 36 gauge aluminum sheets. I first used this material (available at craft stores) after encountering silver Greek Icons while traveling in Crete in 1978. There was something familiar and interesting about the material. It was perfectly suited to the shrines like work I was making at the time (see archives). I noticed that you could buy tin “knock-off” icons on the street in Athens, so I went to a Greek Icon maker to find out how the repousse quality was achieved. Basically he was working with a very heavy aluminum for copper foil. Suddenly I remembered our copper tooling projects in Girl Scouts! I started drawing on the metal and transferring the text from found notes (by tracing the handwriting on the notes). I found the material interesting for many reasons including it’s cultural references (precious, kitsch). It looks hard and cold but is thin enough to be very malleable and easy to draw into. It reminds some of medieval icons or the Milagros on roadside shrines in Central America and in Mediterranean countries, but it also reminds us of tin foil, the stuff in which we wrap leftovers. Over the years I have developed my own techniques with this material and have used them in workshops during community-based public projects in homeless shelters and hospitals. Often I use the notes in quantity to cover the surfaces of walls and sculptural dwellings.
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