Wednesday, November 28, 2018

San Francisco Sugar Skulls...

San Francisco Sugar Skulls by Andrew Thornton
I started these pieces on my way to San Francisco. It was Dia de los Muertos and I kept drawing sugar skulls and making little color field studies on the plane. My fingertips were brightly colored, almost as if I had dipped my fingers in a rainbow and they came out stained. The day that we arrived, we wandered around. We were explorers without a destination. I kept seeing sugar skulls and rainbows wherever we went. They were in the grates, hung in the trees, and brightly painted on side street murals. As evening set in, we were both travel weary, high on friendship, and slightly tipsy on margaritas. We decided to make our way to the altars set up at Garfield Park. As we got closer, it became more surreal and dream-like. Crowds of people dressed up in costumes with painted faces surrounded us. They were holding candles and photographs, and the smell of incense and marigolds got stronger. We were swept up with the strangers, the mourners and the onlookers alike.
Andrew Thornton, "San Francisco Sugar Skull 1". Mixed media, 2018.

Andrew Thornton, "San Francisco Sugar Skull 2". Mixed media, 2018.
Each day I was there, I tried to go on a little walk. Sometimes I went with my sister. Sometimes I went with my friend, Jess. But more often than not, I was on my own. I went when they were at yoga or running errands. I marveled at the flowers and the murals and the urban heartbeat. Lovers holding hands, people of every color and creed. Everything seemed like a celebration. At first. But the more I walked, the more I could sense a deep sadness. Stacks of rocks, a circle of names, memorials tucked beneath trees. Fly with angels. In loving memory. R.I.P.

Andrew Thornton, "San Francisco Sugar Skull 3". Mixed media, 2018.
This city had a memory.

Andrew Thornton, "San Francisco Sugar Skull 4". Mixed media, 2018.
And the memories were of bright, shiny, vibrant people, struck down by an epidemic. We had come to this city when the veil between worlds was thin and the echoes of the spirits of the rainbow could be heard. They could be felt.

Andrew Thornton, "San Francisco Sugar Skull 5". Mixed media, 2018.

Andrew Thornton, "San Francisco Sugar Skull 6". Mixed media, 2018.
I started these pieces on my way to San Francisco. I didn't know what they'd be, but as I worked on them a little each day, they started to take shape and find form. The mixed media collages are made up of layers of cut paper, paint, pigments, ink, and colored pencil. Many of the first several layers cannot be seen at all or only faintly so, as they were whited out or painted over. I wanted to give these pieces history and like most histories, not everything is revealed, but still remains and is ever present. The pieces are embellished with touches of iridescent and metallic pigments and paints, and even a little glitter.

Andrew Thornton, "San Francisco Sugar Skull 7". Mixed media, 2018.

Andrew Thornton, "San Francisco Sugar Skull 8". Mixed media, 2018.
Once I finished the collages, I knew I wanted to give them a sense of veneration and completion. So I set about framing them, but I couldn't find any commercially available frames that conveyed that same sense of history in the collages. So, I made the frames. The frames are made by layering dozens of coats of paint that are then sanded and buffed. It takes hours to achieve this finish, but I think it's worth it and fits with the spirit of the collages.

Andrew Thornton, "San Francisco Sugar Skull 9". Mixed media, 2018.

Andrew Thornton, "San Francisco Sugar Skull 10". Mixed media, 2018.
Each piece measures 5"X5", framed. I am selling them for $75 each plus shipping with a portion of the proceeds to go to the San Francisco AIDS Foundation in recognition of World AIDS Day on December 1st. The San Francisco AIDS Foundation has a mission, "to end the HIV epidemic in the city where it began, and eventually everywhere. Established in 1982, our mission is the radical reduction of new infections in San Francisco because we refuse to accept HIV as inevitable. Through education, advocacy and direct services for prevention and care, we are confronting HIV in communities most vulnerable to the disease."  If you're interested in claiming one or more of the pieces, email me and if it is still available, we'll arrange payment options.

Andrew Thornton, "San Francisco Sugar Skull 11". Mixed media, 2018.

Andrew Thornton, "San Francisco Sugar Skull 12". Mixed media, 2018.
When I was floundering earlier this week, I turned to finishing up these pieces. Not only did it bring me comfort, but it also allowed me to pay tribute and capture the essence of my recent San Francisco experience. ❤️๐Ÿงก๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’œ

1 comment:

Lucy Kalstrom said...

What an instillation! They look wonderful all grouped together like that! The color is brilliant too :-)