The work of Stella Elizabeth Grabowski, Beth Grabowski for short, centers on the theme of nostalgia and identity. Nostalgia is defined as a wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one’s life, or to one’s family and friends; a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time. Beth’s piece, Bark Bark, is a good representation of this.
Bark Bark was completed in the year 1995 [edited 1/11/11: date corrected after the artist commented below!]. It is a print depicting a human hand making a show puppet against a background. The background seems to be outside, most likely against a wall of a building or the side of a tent, for there is a tree placed in the darkness along the dark edge of the background used for the shadow puppet. The shadow puppet is the representation of nostalgia. They are things that children always seem to enjoy, but adults rarely seem to appreciate their simplicity and amusement. The shadow is of a dog, giving the print the name, Bark Bark.
There is also another hint of nostalgia in this piece where it appears a child has drawn or carved a drawing of two people near the bottom of the shadow puppets background. It seems like one person could be considered an adult and the other a child, for one has a body with a hand while the other has no body at all. This might be a representation of childhood, and the longing of having it back.
Grabowski is an American printmaker who currently serves as a Professor, Assistant Chair and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Art at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she teaches printmaking and book arts. She has also co-authored a book with Bill Fick [edited 1/11/11], “Printmaking; A Complete Guide to Materials and Processes.” Her work is represented all over the United States and also internationally, in such places as Russia and China.
Author Emily Horvath was a senior enrolled in ART 3683: History of 20th-Century Art in Fall 2010.