Icarus Flew in My Oven

For Concordia’s Steamrolling Print Event, on April 23, I am engraving two linoleum plates that will become part of a collective print, inspired by the Greek myth, The Fall of Icarus. To create our hero, I lay down on a large piece of paper, my co-artists traced my silhouette, we refined the sketch freehand, which we transferred to an ensemble of twelve linoleum plates, and randomly distributed them amongst the six artists working on the project. (See previous blog A Steamroller, Facebook and The Fall of Icarus.)

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Sketch

A writer, on commenting about working autobiography into fiction, told me, “Once the personal experience blends into a story, it becomes something else.” I am reminded of this phenomenon as I work on this project. The figure on our plates is no longer me; it is Icarus, imprisoned in the palace of Crete with his father Daedalus; Icarus flying giddy with his new-found freedom, thanks to the wings of feathers and wax, crafted by Daedalus; it is Icarus, forgetting his father’s warning not to fly too close to the sun; it is Icarus plunging fatally to the sea. Perhaps because I have a teenage son, Icarus feels real. I can relate to his desire for independence, his forgetfulness while pursuing his thrilling adventure, and his vulnerability.

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Carving my plate at Atelier Circulaire

I am working on one plate that has a section of an arm, and another with part of a leg. I opted for a playful approach to my subject. I tattooed Icarus, with motifs, that have a marine feel to them. I imagine Icarus and his father imprisoned in a palace tower with a little window with a view of the sea. Seabirds would fly to the window ledge and Daedalus would pluck and collect feathers, some of which would be fashioned into wings, some of which would be used as quills to tattoo his son!

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My linoleum plate in progress

It has been an emotional ride working on Icarus’s arm, ranging from euphoria, to utter frustration. Everything was running smoothly. The pleasure of the flight took over me. I was heating my linoleum plate for a minute at a time in my oven to soften it and make it easier to engrave. I popped Icarus into the 200 degree oven for one last time. I was ecstatic–I had carved a mesmerizing mermaid on his arm. I got distracted, let him overheat, dashed to the kitchen in a fury, flung open the oven door, only to discover that my background had bubbled. I plunged into oblivion.

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Inking my plate

As my art mimics Icarus’s fate, there are only two possible outcomes: success or disaster. The only way to find out is to do a test print and find out. Stay tuned to find out what happens to Icarus’s arms, legs, torso, head, lips, toes, psyche…

Talleen Hacikyan

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