Recent Projects > The Stone Seekers / Prescient Heart: Collaboration with Helen Frederick

The Stone Seekers / Prescient Heart, Book 1
The Stone Seekers / Prescient Heart, Book 1
lithography, screen print, monoprint, and chine college on 16 sheets Rives BFK tan

“The Stone Seeker / Prescient Heart” is a collaborative project of Helen Frederick and Chris Mona. Frederick’s investigation of witness and remembrance and Mona’s belief in the elasticity of time and space are wedded in this collaborative project. Latent in the images is the idea of truth seeking. The two printed open-on-the-wall books are relational and offer human understanding through reflections on historical and contemporary images, flaws and all.

Two variable open books of 16 pages each were produced with screen print, lithography, monoprint, letterpress and chine colle’ images, and bound during the months of March to June 2023 at Aqua Regia Press, Anne Arundel Community College, Arnold, Maryland. The books measure 90” x 29.5” open, 22” x 12” closed.

Since both artists have deep interest in the Fluxus movement and Duchampism, shared responses came about playfully and openly. Experimentation and reconfiguring the book pagination as the book pages progressed was key. The unusual vertical size of the pages also provided an interesting challenge, as well as the model construction of a 16 page book, linked in a certain binding, that flips images vertically when closed, for half of the imagery. Turning the pages in the book format honors an irrational approach to narrative, as the images cannot be seen in a linear page-to-page sequence, however viewing the work as a 4 panel x 4 panel wall piece reveals a coherent structure akin to an Eastern Orthodox iconostasis.

The multivalent images fashioned by Frederick and Mona have deep cultural/ spiritual/ or metaphorical resonances. Intrigued by ready-mades, the Stone Seeker glasses (sunglasses with stones rubberbanded on to them) were constructed as a concept by Chris Mona as a statement about seeing and seeking. Can you seek transcendent inner vision by peering into seeing stones, or see visions within a crystal, or do you have rocks in your eyes? Likewise, can you be inspired like Joseph Smith looking into a hat to reveal a book to the world, or do you conjure and trick good souls astray?

The Prescient Heart images are conceived by Helen Frederick to represent universal “heartbreak”, medical urgencies, wounded hearts, damage by bullets, and time fluttering. They are a reckoning of sorts. The hand holds many of the wounded hearts throughout the book for a sense of healing.

An early image is the eyes drawn from the blues singer Ma Rainey. The eyes become a witness or another sense of “proof” as they float through many pages of the book and in the small print edition.

The “Janus head” came about as two artists responding to each other and soon became a key element. The faces look away from each other but are united with a white rectangle and oval shape that magnifies and focuses on one of the eyes.

Medieval figures are featured as slayers, with images adapted and transmuted from Roman frescoes dated ca. 1300. Saint Catherine and Catherine’s Wheel are featured for their connotations of steadfastness and torture. Catherine was tortured on a wheel by the Emperor Maxentius for refusing to renounce her Christian faith. The wheel broke and Catherine was eventually beheaded instead. Looking at the social political times we live in, this horrid incident is not unlike ones that are being experienced around the world, with the wheel reborn in a nationalist or fascist light.

The wheel may also be a cosmic wheel of time, or a stupa that seekers walk around. Dharmachakrais, the wheel, is a symbol in Buddhist, Jain and Hindu traditions, and it is depicted as the wheel of dharma.

The reference to an African sculpture, Ori Inu, represents the Yoruba Concept of the Inner Self, or “Inner Head.” Ori is the mystery of consciousness, and ori-inu is a mystery within a mystery, the mute stone that sees and speaks. It is the invisible self within the self, or, to use the Yoruba description, it is the self that dances in front of the mat. In this context, the mat is the symbol of the unity of all creation.

The pink printed fingerprints give the sensation of feeling to the book. This sense of touch provides a life affirming tactility that is important to the artists.