Cain Malady, Katherine Brimberry

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CIVA Store Item Number::174


Cain Malady

Digital photography, polymer photogravure etching techniques, and chine collé intaglio

Anonymous Painter

Workshop of Maestro Giorgio Andreoli of Gubbio (c. 1525)


And A Large Deruta Ceramic Dish (c. 1500 – 1520)

During the summer of 2003, I visited Scrovegni Chapel in Padua and saw the frescos created by Giotto about 1305.  There was much that moved me there, but the monochrome stucco romano paintings, which illustrate the allegories of Vices and Virtues inspired me to continue my Place Setting series, a series of tondos in vertical rectangular formats based on actual plates in place settings. Up until this time, the content was referential to memory and metaphor. Giotto’s allegories gave me fresh inspiration to create a new series that was to be the “Maladies of a Fallen World.”  I began a list of subjects for this series in the summer of 2003, and included in the list was “war.”  

At the same time, I was doing research for the CIVA Silver Portfolio, looking through the online visual archive of the National Gallery of Art.  I was hoping to find an image that held me and challenged a dialogue.  I used the search engine provided to find new works that I may not have seen and might address some of the subjects on my list of Maladies.  It was then that I discovered that the Gallery had a collection of decorative plates from anonymous workshop that were brilliantly painted.  The subject matter for these plates, which ranged from religious to mythic, included the subject of war.  Two plates explored this subject.  The first plate was created by an anonymous painter in the Workshop of Maestro Giorgio Andreoli of Gubbio.  It is described as a flat plate with a battle scene and was painted in approximately 1525.  The second plate is listed as a large Deruta ceramic dish, c. 1500/1520 with running plant border and in the center, horsemen fighting. 

The subject matter of both of these ceramic works is not unusual for Renaissance painting and design.  Mythic or historic battles were often used but these depictions struck me as ironic and timely.  Both beautifully described a horrible, deadly enterprise.  A battle ensued in the foreground and on the plains and the rivers in the distance havoc was being wrought in the plate from the workshop of Maestro Giorgio.  Soldiers fought hand-to-hand using well-crafted and detailed armor and weaponry.  What I saw in the plate paralleled what I had been seeing on our newscasts:  the war in Iraq and how ingenious, clever, and well orchestrated it was being portrayed.  Both the plates and the government’s rhetoric tried to portray an ugly evil as a beautiful, noble thing.

I wanted to respond by creating my newest “Place Setting” as the malady of war plate.  The postures of the toy soldiers were not too far different from the postures of soldiers on the plates from the 16th century.  The primary change was the type of weapon. Using digital photography, polymer photogravure etching techniques, and chine collé intaglio printing, this response was created.   It is titled “Cain Malady” in reference to the first killing.

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