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Hugh Merrill: Lucky Dragon Series

February 3 - March 4, 2007 Free Admission

Hugh Merrill is a professor of art at the Kansas City Art Institute. His Lucky Dragon sequential etching suite was created in 1984 and exhibited by the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas in 1985. The suite of twenty unique etchings was acquired by the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art in 2006 from a private collector in Chicago, Illinois.

The Lucky Dragon was a Japanese fishing vessel. In 1954, in search of new tuna fishing grounds the Lucky Dragon cast her nets 80 miles off an island in the Pacific Ocean where an American hydrogen bomb test occurred. The boat and crew were caught in a snowstorm of hot radioactive coral flakes. The story of the crew became one small event in the movement to ban the atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons. One of the crewmen died from radiation poisoning.

“I used this event as the subject for the Lucky Dragon suite of prints. Using an abstract visual language of forms, space, light and sequential movement I created an emotional tonality that took me and perhaps the audience beyond the facts to a deeper understanding and insight. I produced the Lucky Dragon Suite by altering a 24” x 36” zinc etching plate. I pulled one print a day then changed the plate pulling a new impression the next day. Only one impression of each state exists. The plate was worked on over 70 days producing 70 unique impressions. I discovered in the sequential process a mechanism for sustaining an investigation, creating and focusing my studio dialogue. Each day as I changed the plate I became more deeply involved in the subject, the physical and emotional experience. The process of struggling each day to conclude an image records and documents my studio narrative. The studio narrative is the act of making, remaking and always an act of discovery. It records both changes in the material and the interaction between the plate, the subject and myself. In the end the plate became so thin that it could no longer sustain reworking.”
-Hugh Merrill