Shireen M. Holman ~ Maryland

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Shireen Holman: "I was born in Mumbai, India. Because I am half Indian and half American, much of my work involves the interaction of both cultures. I have been a printmaker for more than 35 years, and a book artist for more than 20."

By Shireen Holman
Montgomery Village, Maryland: Shireen M. Holman, 2012. Edition of 20.

13.25 x 18"; 16 pages. Bound in illustrated paper wraps. Woodcuts printed onto handmade paper with pulp paintings. Text printed on gampi, which was then pasted onto the handmade sheets. Laid in cloth- and paper-covered clamshell box with title letters tipped on cover. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Shireen Holman, Colophon: "I created this book by printing woodcuts onto paper that I made at Pyramid Atlantic Art Center in Silver Spring, Maryland. Using finely beaten coloured flax and cotton pulp, I painted and stenciled images and textures onto base sheets of 50% cotton and 50% abaca. I used cherry plywood blocks and printed them with oil based inks. I handset the type in Lydian, and Christopher Manson, at Crooked Crow Press, printed it onto gampi, which was then pasted onto the handmade sheets."

Shireen Holman: "My artist book Time is my visual representation of the ways in which people think about time, eternity, and their relationship to human life and death. Each page deals with a different way of thinking and feeling about time. I have chosen short texts to illustrate each image. These different ways include thinking of time in personal terms, as being fragile; of time as being eternal; of time as fleeting. Time can be thought of as being elastic. Time is also seen as flowing constantly in one direction. Perhaps it had a beginning and will have an end. It can be thought of as being destructive. In Hinduism time is thought to be a necessary condition of all growth and decay, and is considered cyclical. Time is also seen as a manifestation of God. People have tried to conquer time by creating works that last well beyond their lifetimes. Certainly time can be measured, and because of this I have included a clock, a calendar, an hourglass, and a sundial in my book. But measurement is only one way to think of time, and these images are not the major focus of the book."

Text include excerpts from Sonnet XII and King Henry the Fourth by William Shakespeare; The Battles of Coxinga by Chikamatsu; Walden by Henry David Thoreau; The Poet's Fame by Richard Watson Gilder; A Brief History of Time by Stephen W. Hawking; The Vishnu Purana translated by Horace Hayman Wilson; Hymns of the Atharva-Veda translated by Maurice Bloomfield; Tirumantiram by Tirumular, translated by Dr. B. Natarajan; The Fabric of the Cosmos, Space, Time and the Texture of Reality by Brian Greene; and, Relativity, The Special and General Theory by Albert Einstein.

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Stream of Life
By Tom Galt
1995. Edition of 20.

13 x 14.5" closed. Pulp painting with woodcut and photo-engraving as well as letterpress.

Shireen M. Holman comments: "The text of this book consists of four poems by Tom Galt, a cousin of mine, a poet whose work has been published in books and journals, but never before in the form of an artist's book. The poems chosen for this book illustrate the poetic passage from life's dawn to its dusk. The theme of the title poem, "Stream of Life," serves as the core of the imagery in the book. The book is partly a memorial to Tom, partly the development of the theme of the voyage of life, and partly the development of the theme of my own life, that of integrating two very different cultures, those of India and America - a theme that I have constantly struggled with, both in my life and in my work.

The book is a Kashmiri houseboat, a likeness of one of the hand carved wooden boats of Dal Lake, in the mountains of Kashmir, India. It is a house boat - a home, a vessel carrying and protecting us on the stormy, unknown sea of life."

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Memories of My Father
By Shireen M. Holman
1998. Edition of 25.

15 x 11" closed. Woodcuts on handmade paper and screenprints on the Arches Cover. The woodcuts are on handmade paper made of cotton rag and abaca. Towards the end of the beating, Holman added pieces of old hand woven cushion covers to the pulp. These were cushion covers which her parents had used in their home in India. She incorporated the covers' embroidered design into the woodcuts, and added a small remaining piece of the embroidery in each book.

Comments from Shireen M. Holman: "This is an artist's book of visual memories of my father, who died in 1994. My father immigrated from India to the United States, where he spent the last thirty years of his life. The memories combine both cultures. The walking stick in one of the small books, for example, is a hand carved stick from the hilly region of Maharashtra. It reminds me of hikes in the mountains; of a picnic interrupted by news that a tiger had been sighted in our vicinity. The bathrobe is one that he wore on cold nights in America. His glasses and chappals (Indian sandals that he wore no matter what the weather) were still beside his bed after he died; books and music represent his interests. The fire in the family room conveys his warmth and love. It makes me think of his deep attachment to family, and the many occasions he created for bringing us all together. I used one of the designs from a carved frieze on our house in India as the border for the woodcuts."



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The Artist At Home
By Shireen M. Holman
2000. Edition of 14.

11.75 x 9.25 x 1.5" closed, 11.75 x 78.25" fully opened. An accordion book of woodcuts printed on Rising Stonehenge paper. The cover is made of wood, with dollhouse wood siding, trim and a dollhouse door.

On the making of this book from the artist: ""The Artist at Home" is made up of images of my life in my home/studio. The pages are organized so as to emphasize the disjointedness of the life of an artist. I grab minutes in my studio in between all the other things that I do. The coffee mug and the tea kettle, for example, are obvious symbols of housework and cooking. But in my studio, the mug also becomes a pencil and brush holder. A wild bird, a kite, representing artistic inspiration or emotional life, becomes abstracted into a stylized drawing on the studio table. In another print, I use that drawing as part of a wall hanging. As a child in India, I learned to fear kites. When we saw them circling overhead we were told that they would unpredictably swoop down and attack small moving animals, including small children. In my print I try to show how, as an artist, I take what I find, both within myself and outside of myself, and distill it and use it to create my art. I own a wood engraving by Lynd Ward, called "Caged Uncaged." I have also used some of the uncaged birds from that print in one of my pages, partly as a realistic portrayal of my home, but mainly because, like my wild kite, these birds also symbolize for me a part of my life that is captured in my art."



The Artist At Home
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Shireen M. Holman Out of Print Title:  

(Rakshasa) The Demon of September 11, 2001
By Shireen M. Holman
Maryland: Shireen M. Holman, 2001. One-of-a-Kind.

Dimensions: 16" x 14" (closed), 16" x 28" (open). Collage on board.

Shireen Holman: "This is an artist’s book in the form of a panel. The inside of the panel depicts a rakshasa, a demon from Indian mythology, amid flames and smoke and images of scurrying figures. The rakshasas of mythology were enemies of men [and they] had hideous deformities and were monstrous in appearance. They represented forces of evil that attacked people and gods. Although the attacks of September 11 certainly had known perpetrators, in this work I have tried to present the event in more general terms, as representative of the evil that human beings are capable of doing. In most of my work, as in my life, I try to integrate two very different cultures, those of India and America. This is partly what made me choose the image of a rakshasa as a symbol of the human capacity for evil. I also wanted to use a symbol that dates back many centuries, to show that this evil has existed throughout history, and its horror endures.

"The center back panel is an abstract collage of the twin towers of the World Trade Center in flames. The front panels show the remaining ruins. The book is encased in a plain, dark gray woolen fabric. This is a fabric similar to the ones used for business suits, to represent the many workers who died or were injured in the tragedy."

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Page last update: 01.05.16


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