While at Yale, Lilian focused her studies on the 3rd Century apocryphal texts including the Gnostic Literature, a wisdom tradition with roots in Judaism, early Christianity, and Greek philosophy. Her studies left little time for printmaking but provided a lifetime of inspiration.
After receiving her master’s degree from Yale in 2012, Lilian returned to the gardens of Wilder Hill and apprenticed with Carl Darrow of Greenleaf Press. Carl Darrow, official printer to Historic Old Deerfield, generously shared his reverence for printing and his collection of metal type and vintage presses. Exploring the cases full of type Lilian became enamored with ‘dingbats’; the finely detailed, decorative borders and embellishments cast in metal. Her printmaking expanded from text into the creation of images, for example, The Mandala Series, The Tree of Life, and Ivy Escapes In The Night.
While studying with Barry Moser at Smith College, one of his oft-repeated sayings was, ”There are only two proper colors for letterpress printing, black and white…..and in some cases red.” One of Lilian’s Nicaraguan teachers said of relief printmaking, “If the image does not work in B&W then it does not work. “ Inevitably, however, the gardener/artist gravitated toward the introduction of color to her prints. Using various techniques and multiple plates, Lilian continues to explore color in her prints, always defined by the strong framework of a ‘key block’, the original B&W image.
BLACK AND WHITE IMAGES
Strongly influenced by the long tradition of printmaking in Central America, and religious folk art the world over, Lilian has produced a number of prints in high relief B&W. These include the series Los Trabajadoros de Granada (The Workers of Granada), Portuguese Pieta (inspired by a Portuguese marble sculpture), and St. Pachomius and the Angel Eleleth, an iconographic and speculative rendering of the burial of the Nag Hamadi Library in the Egyptian desert.
Setting metal type in the traditional composing trays, upside down and backward, is a most exacting and meditative exercise. One becomes very intimate with the chosen text, letter by letter, space by space. The goal is not to express your own creativity or personality, but to honor the words and to let them speak through your skill at choosing the typeface, composition, and design.
The books and broadsides Lilian produced while at Smith College adhere to the strict principles instilled in her by Professor Barry Moser.
However, the embellished typefaces and the finely wrought metal ornaments called “dingbats’, proved irresistible to Lilian. After graduating from Smith College, Lilian apprenticed with Carl Darrow of Green Leaf Press in Conway, where she expanded her letterpress work to include images composed entirely of the ornaments, including The Mandala Series, Tree of Life, and Ivy Escapes in the Night. Eventually, type and images found their way toward each other in works such as The 23rd Psalm, and the Brain Series.