Edition 2 of 5 only
Etching and aquatint on Somerset cream paper, 11 x 10 inches
Images from 4 x 5 inches to 6 x 8 inches;
Title plate is 14 x 11 inches
Individual letters may be available at $600 each-please inquire
Rebecca Gray Smith’s suite of black-and-white etchings took nearly twenty-five years to complete. Personal histories, comedy and spirituality are infused into each of the intricate prints that feature a letter of the alphabet along with skeletal beings acting out foreboding narratives. The engravings, originally intended as a response to the AIDS crisis, evolved over time into a larger examination of death, becoming a cathartic process for Smith’s personal grief after losing her husband to lung cancer.
“The whole fact of death is absurd to me,” she says. “I still can’t believe that these people I loved so much aren’t here any more.” Smith grapples as well with her father’s death and her mother’s suicide in the suite.
Strong reference is made to the theme of Danse Macabre, and other late medieval art, while maintaining an unmistakable element of humor: bone-hands type on a computer keyboard behind the letter “I for Internet,” as another skeleton appears on the screen.
Smith graduated with a Master’s in Liberal Arts from the University of Chicago in 2012 where she currently teaches a class called “The Echo of Eons: The Power of Printmaking in Art.” She has previously taught courses in printmaking at Chicago City Colleges, Chicago Park District, and the Chicago parochial school system, as well as for children at risk.