About The Art
from the artist
This collection of 15 works began January 2021 in response to the death of my son. Taking emotional, narrative, and structural cues from the Christian liturgical tradition of the Stations of the Cross, these works offer viewers a reflective pilgrimage as an opportunity to consider moments or seasons of loss and grief. Each station offers a space to feel and name, to offer and release, to pray and bless.
The 15 framed works on paper are a combination of mono-printing, block printing, hand and machine stitching, oil painting, and mixed-media processes. The works began with the mono-printing process using a previous canvas of Callis’ as the printing plate. This recycled work had a heavily textured wood surface conducive to receiving ink and embossing the print paper. The idea of recycling or resurrecting an older work to create a new work was extremely compelling.
The printing process involved covering the surface of the printing block (recycled painting) with printer’s ink, situating paper on top of the inked plate, and running it through the press. The printing press applied even pressure against the surface plate and transferred an inked impression onto the paper. After each print the surface of the plate was reinked. I repeated the process 15 times. Much like the ceramic Raku process, mono-printing essentially creates a unique image every time, limiting control of the final outcome, like human DNA over a lifetime.
The next step was to block-print onto the mono-print design using a combination of 5, hand carved block plates. Each plate carved with a variation of a net design. The block-printing process involved hand inking the plate with every pressing. The inked plate was set on the printing press bed and the mono-printed print was placed on the inked plate and run through the printing press. This layered process was repeated multiple times per print creating a complex matrix of webs that appear to be fraying or reconfiguring, much like the tangled webs we weave.
After the printing process, the prints were stitched by hand and the sewing machine introduced yet another series of networks reasserting net lines or running new pathways and making new connections.
The final step in the process was the extraction of print fragments symbolizing a wounding to the surface of the work. Each work bears a wound numbering from 1 to 15 indicating the station count. Each wound exposes a surface of a textured black surface painted with blessed palm ashes traditionally used for the Christian church’s Ash Wednesday or Day of Ashes ceremony that marks the beginning of Lent.
Each bowl is a vessel, holding a space for giving or receiving, a space to empty out and a place to be filled. Symbolically, a bowl represents emptiness and holds promise. Each bowl was formed from a white clay body; all 15 bowls were hand thrown and raku fired.
Raku firing is an ancient Japanese ceramic technique. In this technique a glazed ceramic work is
taken from the kiln while still glowing red hot and placed on a combustible material, such as
leaves, seaweed, or paper. Raku firing is used to starve oxygen from the piece which creates a
myriad of colors within the glaze.
When the oxygen is taken from the clay in place of the glaze, it results in a matte black coloring.
The outcome is an unprecedented piece; there is no certainty as to how the final piece will turn
out. Raku creates a unique design every time.
In the case of these bowls, the combustible materials were letters to and from my son, Jeremy,
along with documents from his hospital stay, the crematorium and death certificate, and copies
of eulogies given at his memorial service. His words and the words about him color the body
and glaze of the clay bowls.
from the artist
This exhibition is dedicated to my beloved son, Jeremy David Callis (1980-2020). Chef, musician, artist, and surfer, Jeremy loved good books, good music, and good conversation. He was a gifted storyteller with a laugh that was contagious. He was born early and came into the world with the fire of the universe. He left us far too soon. He left knowing the fierce love that so many had for him, and now he rests in the presence of “He who wipes away every tear and makes all things new.”
Jeremy died due to complications from a ten-year opioid addiction developed after a workplace injury, for which he was prescribed the painkiller OxyContin. His addiction was a deadly symptom of an older, deeper wound that he never fully lamented and made meaning of.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse the annual death rate related to opioid overdoses rose from 18,000 per year in 2011 to 106,000 in 2021. 106,000 people a year, 290 people per day. Each one is someone’s child, sibling, or parent.
Watercolor by Anamika Gurung