Throughout history, generations of migrants have created the geological and genealogical layers of our cultural and physical terrain. With the media currently focusing attention on international and national immigration, we are confronted with the barriers and obstacles that stand in the way of those who seek a better life. As we consider the suffering and triumphs of migrants, we can also reflect on the contributions made by newcomers to the layers of historical, cultural, and experiential landscape.
The print and Artist Book Series, On the Other Side and Geology/Genealogy are works that probe this broader notion. Some images are layered landscapes strewn with obstacles; others offer the viewer a look at the layers beneath the surface. The work calls up the fear and the allure of the unknown, the possible consequences and potential rewards of navigating unfamiliar territory.
Patty Smith, national artist member of A.I.R., printmaker and book artist, from Philadelphia PA, and Claire Fouquet, filmmaker and printmaker, from Paris and Angoulême France, have been working together as four hands since 2012, alternately in Paris and Philadelphia. They merge their areas of expertise confronting issues of common concern, courage, fear, confidence, and self-doubt in their prints, artist books and animations. In producing the monotypes, the Plexiglas plate is passed back and forth between Smith and Fouquet, each artist contributing her individual marks.
The Artists Book, On the Other Side, also a collaborative piece, is published by the Women's Studio Workshop in Rosendale, NY, 2016. The book is a five-color concertina, with four sides, screen printed in an edition of fifty. The book's text and structure support the concept. The recto lists the fears that might be experienced by an emigrant making the difficult and life altering choice to change place. The cut windows entice the viewer to go to the other side of the book. The viewer is invited to turn the concertina inside out. The verso presents a positive view and describes potential advantages, opportunities, and joys that might lead one "to appreciate the unfamiliar."
All of the work comments on internal anxiety that prevents us from moving forward in our personal lives. Some obstacles, seemingly threatening and impossible to surmount, may be the product of our fear of failure or the unfamiliar. Illusions, manufactured by uncertainty can be transcended, through personal resolve and collective effort. The work invites the viewer to consider the rewards of overcoming barriers and moving on to the other side.