Where I hoped rock would be

“Where I hoped rock would be” is an ongoing series of mixed media collages that draws on ancient and early modern palimpsests as models for inscription, erasure, and memory.

Each collage begins with a lithographic print. Small areas of this base image are cut away and then rebuilt, and elaborated, with layers of printed Tengujo paper, colored pencil, ink, graphite, origami paper, cotton and silk thread, and raw silk fabric. Once the collage is complete, extraneous paper is cut away and the work is mounted on a variety of colored papers. Each piece is unique.

Inspired by historical references to the cultural crosscurrents of the Mediterranean Basin, the series title “Where I hoped rock would be” is a line drawn from the fifteenth-century poem “Il-Kantilena,” the oldest extant literary text in Maltese (a synthesis of late medieval Sicilian Arabic and Romance languages). The poem, by Pietru Caxaro, is astonishingly modern in its conceit, calling up despair, resilience, impermanence, and the geographies of place and belonging.

While the prints venture far afield in their exploration of paper manipulation and visual scale, I have limited myself to a few formal images as building blocks: a manuscript facsimile of “Il-Kantilena” and archeological footprints from one of the most ancient religious sites on earth, the megaliths Ħaġar Qim and its companion site Mnajdra, located on the southern island of Malta.

“Where I hoped rock would be” serves as a metaphor for our shared histories, and the modern destructions wrought by the denial of our interdependence. Through a practice of erasure and entanglement as an alternate form of discourse, islands of human activity and their languages offer other ways of knowing.