Rubbings (2007)

Gold-colored brass rubbing crayon on paper
Dimensions vary (30” maximum)

I made each piece in this series of more than 70 rubbings by holding a piece of paper on a stone monument or gravestone, and rubbing a crayon on the paper to pick up the negative images of the engraved letters beneath. Rather than transferring the complete image of the gravestone, I moved the paper around the stone to construct questions taken mainly from song lyrics as well as a couple poems and my own writing.

The process was rather slow, especially since I aligned the shifted paper into place by sight and by using my hands as impromptu spacers between the letters and words. It was a process I loved because the graveyard I often worked in is large, meandering, and as green as a park. It was peaceful and yet exciting to see the drawings emerge. It could also be slightly hurried at times, since squatting or kneeling on the ground could be hard on my body and I had to work when the weather allowed.

As I worked on the series, it seemed interesting that I was using gravestones to create the questions I did—questions about life, love, and death that were stuck in my mind and popped up in that setting. I never saw a gravestone inscription that posed a question itself—epitaphs are stated with a finality and certitude that seems unfathomable to me at this point in my life. I wonder if the moment of my death will be the moment of my understanding.