“In the upper left hand corner I draw an angel,” writes Barbara Beisinghoff. “It is an object of an original nature, a purely gracious invention, and highly symbolic.” An accordion bound, richly textured artist’s book, The Angel is my Watermark is based on three “voices,” each printed in a different font: the story of the same name by American author Henry Miller (Typewriter font), a 17th century poem The Song of Paper by Father Imberdis (Antiqua font), and Beisinghoff’s own voice (Century font). Miller’s tale of an angel in Paris in the late 1920s provided Beisinghoff with her celestial protagonist, and her meditation on the making of a work of art led her to explore the angel as an emancipatory figure in the creative process itself.
Printed on handmade paper of abaca, cotton linter, raw flax and linen rags, The Angel is my Watermark allows for the possibility that the angel might be a species from the natural world, its iridescent wings etched into paper like pressed flowers. Multi-colored etchings, silkscreened text, and encaustic drawings play side by side with Beisinghoff’s exquisite watermarks, achieved with the manipulation of light against flexible screens. The embossed quality of her creatures with wings attest to her goal as an artist: to penetrate the material, to access what is underneath. “I compare watermarks with dreams,” says Beisinghoff. “Watermarks slumber in paper. They await discovery through backlighting. What is in the unconscious will come to light.”
The Clark’s copy of The Angel is my Watermark, number 1 in an edition of 47, is signed by Barbara Beisinghoff.