My childhood in the jungle.
We knew each plant
all the animals
and every tree
the sun and the moon and all the stars.
I am forced to surrender myself to a new country, new ground underneath my feet. I have no choice.
I have to breath in new air, I need to listen to new sounds and I have to meet strangers who I don’t understand.
I even have to surrender myself to an evening sky which is unknown to me.
Here you have me, new country. I have spread my arms, they are wide open, ready to fall into this new blue color.
When I watch the news and see all these people on the run, these thousands and thousands of refugees seeking for a safe place; it makes me really sad. The only thing these people want is a good and safe life, which I think is a basic human right. But we are so afraid for letting them in and that they disturb our perfect lives. So the only thing these thousands and thousands of people can do is wait. Waiting to get back to living a life again. Can you imagine that you have to wait for maybe ten years until you can start living again? I can’t. I have know idea what really waiting is about; sure I wait for my train to arrive, in a restaurant for the dish I just ordered, or for a friend etc. But waiting for a long time to continue my life, I have know idea what that feels like. I can only guess; it would make me feel quite desperate.
I am not a politician or an activist but I do want to tell people how I think about this, but in my own way, as an artist.
So I started to make paper cuts from these refugees, from the people you see on the news every day.
Because they are with so many it is hard to realize that they all are individuals with their own story to tell. So within my project I focus on the individual, I cut them out of paper. Usually I would print them on paper but now I like them just the way they are; hanging in front of my window; and you can see the world through them; seeing their hopes and dreams for the future.
In september I’ll be taking part in a Dutch exhibition about the artist/printmaker H.N. Werkman 1882-1945. This exhibition will be a tribute to his life and work and will take place at gallery Werfkade in Hoogezand, the province of Groningen where he spent his whole life. I’m very happy to take part because I’m a huge fan of his work! (like many Dutch printmakers) he was far ahead of his time and he didn’t choose the easiest path in life.
Every artist who is participating in the show, focusses on a different aspect of Werkman’s life and work.
My work tells about Werkman’s desire for moving to a big city and his dreams about a simple life on Tahiti like Gauguin.
But instead of pursuing his dreams he stayed his whole life in Groningen.
I wonder, is it a bad thing that he never went after his dreams and desires? Or is dreaming about another world already enough for an artist in order to make his work? Isn’t dreaming like an engine in an artist’s mind that keeps the work going?
Title: Eventually I made it to the jungle, paper litho, 30 x 40 cm
I started to make etchings again, using copperplates.
It felt wonderful again do experiment with this technique again. I made a series of three prints for an exhibition. They tell a story.
A group of people leave their hometown to start a new life in a new country. But the journey did not bring them to a new place, instead it brought them back home again.
Right now i’m working as an English teacher, it is a temporarily job. But I love it so much. As an artist I have to use my creativity in a totally different way in order to make a good teaching program. What I would like the students to learn is that they are aware of what is happening in the world right now. I like to talk with them about events happening in society, in the world. I ask them questions and let them think of solutions on how to approach certain matters. Often they come up with such interesting point of views; I could really learn from that and get inspired by it.
Because I am so busy teaching it is really hard to get some printing done. But I consider this teaching job as a learning experience and a way to meet new people and their stories. I’m gathering all these new impressions in my head and they can stay there for a while and linger. Later on, I can turn these stories into a drawing.
Last week I made this paper litho print. It is my respond to all the things that are happening around the world right now. All those incredibly sad and horrific things. And you are wandering; when will it enter my world?
Often I don’t know how to respond to those things you watch on the news. But I will try. Like a friend of mine said; ‘Emmy’s graphic work always seems to want to tell something about the world.’ I think she is right; I try to tell something. And that something is often very simple or small, but it is something I have noticed while looking around in this world.
‘Once upon a time there were two brothers.
Then there was only one: myself ’
(from the poem ‘the history of my life’ by John Ashbery)
This etching tells the story about two brothers who are not together anymore. They live in different worlds now.
They still look after each other. Their band is so strong it traverses boundaries.
When I was looking at this print today I realized that it reminds of a song by the Dutch band Rowwen Heze: ‘Auto, Vliegtuug’.
The song is about traveling the world by car, an airplane, a boat and during this journey you realize how big the world is.
A week ago I was sitting in an airplane and looking out of the window; it was around sunset, the sky was full of bright red and orange, beneath me were the clouds covering the land like a blanket, so peaceful. Then I had to think of this song.
Today I discovered I actually made a print about it.
I have to projects going on: learning stone litho and making paper lithos.
The stone litho series will be more about a man alone searching for his way in life. A personal quest. A pilgrimage you could say.
But the paper litho series are more about things that are happening all over the world. Like terrorism and wars, innocent people who get hurt. And in the middle of these disasters I place an individual, just a regular guy. ‘seasons change and I’m still waiting‘ refers to this regular guy who is waiting for his loved ones to come home after a disaster destroyed his life. There is nothing he can do about it then just wait. Waiting while winter turns into spring, spring turns into summer and then fall and eventually winter again. In the meantime this guy is still waiting. And he just has to sit this through. He has to feel the sun on his face, try to keep warm while the snow is falling. He does not have a choice. Sometimes you just don’t have a choice but to hang in there….