The Garden of Earthly Delights

When I was preparing to do my first screen prints, I went to the library to find images in art history books. What I was looking for was anything that inspired me, and was also public domain. I came across a few very cool images which ended up not turning out so well during the transfer. Of that type of inspiration what  I ended up using the most were two very simple, somewhat symbolic images: the "Tree" and the "Lady" is how I refer to them. They both come from the same painting by Hieronymus Bosch: The Garden of Earthly Delights. I wonder if you can figure out which images I used, it took me awhile to find them again!

The tree is a fairly obvious choice for a print, especially being in Asheville - a very nature-oriented place. Although now I wish I had taken a photograph of a local tree for the print (and maybe someday I will) I think the one I use from this painting has some relevance.  I like to think of how long this painting has been around (since the late 1400s), how rich it is with meaning and symbolism and how many eyes have seen it and in turn reflected because of it. The image I have is a very simple representation of a tree, which keeps with my general theme of simplicity. Another cool thing is when the screen was burned a piece of hair dropped onto it and formed a spiral. I don't think it shows up any more since I've printed with it so many times but several people out there are wearing it!


Now the lady is a very symbolic image. In the painting she is an actual woman, not just the silhouette as I have made her. There are therefor two ways to interpret her- as the shadow of a woman and as an actual woman. Then of course I do print her in white and brown, so sometimes I think of an Elliott Smith song when I am printing her in white "The White Lady Loves You More". What is a woman? Certainly a mysterious creature. Blamed in the Bible as being the temptress that brought humanity into sin, but also the bearer of life in all of nature's cycles. She is inside all of us whether we are male or female identified, and she has taken a beating but is making a comeback in our current age. Sometimes Asheville is referred to as SheVille. I have come to appreciate the feminine energy here and I do believe everyone in the world can benefit from connecting with a motherly, sweet and loving version of  God.

These two prints belong together! Indeed a bit different from the simple-machine orientation of the other Rhetorical Factory prints but key nonetheless.

Bethany Adams
Bethany Adams


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