Mar 15, 2021
Annie Bissett is one of the most thought provoking and interesting mokuhanga artists working today. Her pieces allow the viewer to contemplate subjects and ideas which may never have entered their consciousness . Especially in the current political and cultural climate, her prints make all the more sense. In this episode of The Unfinished Print I speak with Annie Bissett about her career in mokuhanga, what her “sociopolitical” prints are meant to signify, her method as well as her philosophies on mokuhanga as a form of artistic expression.
Notes: notes may contain a hyperlink. Simply click on the highlighted word or phrase.
sōsaku hanga - an initial period of woodblock print making beginning in the early 20th century and dedicated to what I would call, natural printmaking. Omitting the traditional division of labour method of the publisher, carver, and printer, sōsaku hanga printmakers create their prints entirely on their own. Although this is not always the case with some printmakers notably Saitō Kiyoshi (1907-1997) who as he got older and more popular began to mete out his work for others to produce. A great history on Saitō can be found here from the town of Yanaizu in Fukushima, Prefecture’s website where the Saitō Kiyoshi Museum of Art is located.
Annie Bissett’s map prints can be found here.
Annie Bissett’s “We Are Pilgrim’s” prints can be found here.
a great article, albeit from 1958, on the development of early American woodcuts can be found as open access on JSTOR.
The National Security Agency in the United States has been accused of surveillance on the American citizenry. Annie Bissett’s prints about the NSA can be found here.
Smith College is a private liberal arts women’s college in Northampton, Massachusetts.
Annie Bissetts “pots” series of prints can be found here.
John Alden was a crew member and Pricilla Alden was a passenger on the Mayflower, and were married. Annie Bissett’s print of the couple can be found here.
Printmaker David Bull’s “Baren Forum” can still be found, here. It’s chock full of information for printmakers of all levels.
I Was A Twentieth Century Lesbian (series) can be found here.
shunga - generally speaking is a woodblock printing style and motif that has to do with sex and sexuality. Much of the time it is gratuitous and fantastical. Usually banned throughout its history it was and still is extremely popular. Annie Bissett’s “Twentieth Century Lesbian” series is tasteful and powerful and, in my personal opinion, still connects to the shunga tradition through that tasteful and powerful light.
Wood-like Matsumura - an incredibly important online and brick and mortar store located in Nerima City, Tokyo.
I allude to the print, The Dream Of The Fisherman’s Wife (蛸と海女) published in 1814. It is one of the most famous shunga prints ever made where a female figure is being made love to by an octopus. For an interesting take on this print look to photographer Sawatari Hajime and his series of photos “Hysteric Ten” to see that print, essentially, come to life. PEN magazine in Tokyo wrote an article in English, here.
opening and closing credit
background music: Bruce Springsteen “Highway 29,” from
The Ghost Of Tom Joad (1995)
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