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The Figure and Its Field
ArtScan Gallery April 23-May 29, 1999
Houston, Texas
 
This installation of my patient portrait woodcut series is installed behind a veil of flowers. The flowers are relief photoengravings, printed on round circles of paper.Exhibition photos by Roger Haile.

This space is part of a larger group show curated by Volker Eisele for his ArtScan gallery in Houston.
Beginning in 1993, I began making small sketches of HIV patients during ward rounds. In 1997, I enlarged some of these sketches and began a series of woodcuts, which I print on handmade paper.

Most of the patients from the mid-1990's have died from HIV/AIDS. The more recent portraits are of people living with HIV. Individual woodcut portraits can be viewed in my print catalog raisonne.

Click here to view portraits listed in Print Catalog Raisonne.
Many of the steps in creating the portraits help me physically work through my emotional responses to my psychiatric work with HIV/AIDS patients. First, I cut and chop into hard marine plywood to make the woodcuts. Then I grind cotton and abace fibers in my hollander beater and form sheets of paper onto the inked woodcuts. These inked woodblocks covered with wet paper are printed under great pressure in my hydraulic press.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THIS PROCESS FOR FAERYLAND.


In 1998, I began to cut woodblock frames which are printed around some of the patient portraits. The frame images tell more of the HIV/AIDS story and are associated with HIV transmission––histories of child abuse, compulsive and unsafe sex, unclean injection techniques or other drug use. Another woodcut frame shows a band of angels circling the dying person as they lie in their hospital bed.

In 1999, I wrote about this in the small book The New Face of AIDS
I'm standing on the right, with my patient, discussing his portrait at The Figure and its Field reception. Patients are asked to consent to my drawing their portraits, and are informed that the drawing might be turned into a woodcut which might be exhibited. Several patients attended this exhibit and agreed to be interviewed by me in front of their portraits.
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