Original Block Prints
My block prints grew out of a desire to have a place to process and channel emotions that I have continued to feel since I began a different phase of healing with food and my body in the summer of 2016. Just a few months later, the election occurred. I witnessed a fear become an unsurprising reality that night. In the process of learning to trust my body, I discovered that my gender wasn’t as simple as I thought it had been. I have been trying to reconcile my trust in my body and my gender ever since. I’d learned how to respect and care for my queer, white, fat body. I hadn’t learned yet how to respect and care for my trans non-binary, queer, white, fat body though. Then I met a colleague who is an art therapist and taught me how to use many different media to process emotions.
Around the time that I learned how to carve soft rubber blocks, I listened to Marilyn Wann interviewed for Rachel W. Cole’s Belly Capsule Podcast. As they spoke about Marilyn’s stomach project collaging stomach’s out of found objects, I knew I needed to carve my belly in rubber and make prints. My belly has historically been a source of pain, rejection, and loathing. Always longing for it to be smaller, and contained. It must not stick out farther than my breasts. Within a year of my new phase of healing food and body, my belly surpassed my chest. My belly was no longer stifled by my need to manipulate and discipline it.
Bellies symbolize a great deal in our US culture. Big bellies for babies, some pregnant people, bears, and puppies are adored while big bellies for older children, adolescents, and adults are condemned. For many this sets us on a lifelong journey to prevent and/or eradicate their big belly from existence. This certainly was part of what drove my eating disorder. Today, I tend to be neutral about my big belly. It’s part of me. It exists. It is a sign of my recovery. I chose this project as a way for me to make something beautiful out of something that has caused great pain in the past. You’ll see that I have branched out from bellies with subject matter that felt important to me. I continue to explore what bellies mean alongside gender, gender identity, and gender expression.
My Creative Process
Typically, each of my prints are created from a photograph. I freehand the image onto the soft rubber block with pen. Then I use linoleum cutters to carve out the design in the block. Sometimes I carve more than one at a time, and sometimes I only carve. Depending on time and what I feeling, I will make prints as soon as I am done carving. Other times, I spend one evening carving, and another day printing.
I use thick, high quality art paper to print each image. Using this method has in itself been a lesson in letting go of perfectionism. No two prints ever turn out the same. Ever. Rarely does the paint stay contained to where I place the block. Many prints end up with a smudge somewhere I wasn’t planning. I decided from the beginning that I wasn’t going through away any of these prints, because they were “imperfect.” The process quickly became a metaphor for how bodies exist. None of our bodies are the same. And quirks that we do not like about our own bodies, often others find beautiful or don’t even notice the places that we view as our “paint smudges.”
Trying to place a soft rubber block in the exact center of a piece of paper is difficult just by sight. I contemplating measuring out each piece or coming up with a way to make sure each one was center. I quickly dismissed that idea as it was too heady and I didn’t want to take the time to do so. Another way that I just decided to go with the flow and let it be what it was going to be. A few images, I experimented with purposefully placing the prints off center. I couldn’t handle it as a repetitive practice. But I did keep them and they are up for sale. I figure someone, somewhere may be into it.
Lastly, I have been experimenting with color. For the majority of my prints, I only used colors directly from the tubes. Sometimes I would add white, silver, or gold to lighten something, but never to create a new color. Now, I am working to create different colors and tones to see what I can come up with. Each print has it’s own texture, and I love that you can feel the raised paint on them. Oh, fun fact.
I really enjoy the entire process. Picking a pose or photo to use to create a block. Carving. Picking and/or creating colors. Rolling the paint onto the block. And finally printing it.
So many people have found my prints to be meaningful that I decided I would sell them. My life has been enriched by all the fat art I have seen since 2016, and I am grateful that I am now able to add to this growing specialty.
I am happy to consider special requests for size or color. Also, if you are interested in having me make a print of your belly, please reach out!
Contact me here.