My grandpa Patrick McCloskey immigrated from Donegal, Ireland. I got the grand idea to have some fun with St. Patrick, the most sacred hero of the Island of Saints. Fortunately for me, the Irish, even religious fundamentalists, tend to have a sense of humor. St Patrick: The Lesser-Known Miracles will be exhibited at the AFA Gallery, Scranton, March 5-28. The prints will be up for St. Patrick’s Day.
These are relief prints, carved from wood or linoleum. It is a down-and-dirty way of printing. In my case, a bit the prints are rough-hewn, but they tell a story. I learned this process from masters like Tom Huck and Endi Poskovic and from my printmaking friends in Oaxaca.
One of the new miracle prints is a linoleum cut of St. Patrick arm wrestling a Pagan. Kutztown printmaking student Victoria Beck asked if the pagan was Tom Huck. Good eye, there is a resemblance. I made my first St. Patrick print at Huck’s studio, Evil Prints in St. Louis. So this image is a shout-out to Huck. On another level, the legend of St. Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland may be rooted in his driving the tattooed druids out of power.
I’ve read Thomas Cahill’s book How the Irish Saved Civilization and Seamus MacManus’s The Story of the Irish Race. Both interesting books celebrate Irish exceptionalism. I am proud of my Irish ancestry, but I toy with this sort of myth-making in my prints. Every nationality tends to inflate their ancestor’s contributions, I suppose.
Reading Eagle reporter Lisa Scheid wrote about this project here. “We see a lot of pictures of a saintly St. Patrick, but Kutztown University professor Kevin McCloskey wants people to see something more. McCloskey, a printmaker and an Irish-American who has participated in his share of St. Patrick’s Day parades, has a series of prints about St. Patrick. The series, “The Lesser Known Miracles of St. Patrick,” doesn’t depict any aspect of the saint or legend but is a celebration of its spirit. Patrick came to Ireland as a kidnapped slave; he escaped and then, surprisingly, returned. “It’s kind of a subversive idea to go back and want to change a country,” McCloskey said. “With a religion from the Middle East, he returned to this cold, tough place to spread love.”
St Patrick: The Lesser-known Miracles can be seen at AFA Gallery, 514 Lackawanna Ave, Scranton from March 5-28. Opening: Friday March 6, First Friday 6-9pm. I will be there and look forward to meeting my fellow exhibitors, Veronica Lawlor and Chris Spollen. Gallery info here. A few more St. Patrick prints can be seen here. If I don’t see you before March 17, Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Many thanks to my friend Scranton-based illustrator Ted Michalowski for introducing me to the AFA Gallery. Thanks, too, to Dean Bill Mowder of Kutztown University for a grant to support this project.