Introducing READING THE KEY: An Exploration in Metals, Pigment, and Paper

Ginger's KeysConsider the key. A simple metal form, it is common, yet valuable. Without a needed key, access is denied. But key in hand, one may enter, embark, or open, and continue. It is part of a system: alone it is merely an object, but paired with the right lock, it fulfills its purpose. Just as a key gives access, knowledge affords access to opportunity in life. In “Reading the Key,” I use a key to symbolize the vastness of knowledge itself. It is a motif that I have included in paintings, jewelry and small-scale metal sculpture in this series of works about the power of the written word, literacy and knowledge.

Ginger's BooksMaking this series of works in the various media has been a creative journey that at times was beyond my control. There have been many phases and aspects to the process over a relatively short period of time. As part of this process, I have poured through my own personal collection of antique/vintage books, somehow making the decision to sacrifice a few of them in various ways. Some books were used as information sources, and others I have ripped apart and used pages in mixed media collage pieces on canvas. I am a metalsmith at heart, but painting challenges me in a special way that I enjoy.

A contrast of two writing samples from Thomas Bailey Aldrich

The text of a collection of short stories was used as graphic for metal etching with ferric chloride into copper and nitric acid into silver. (Ironically, this one – executed with acids – is the one book I used that remains intact in full book form as I transferred the text onto the metal using a heat-based resist.)

from series: Reading the Key: An Exploration in Metal, Pigment, Paper

Each of the paintings explores a concept somehow related to the building of literacy, the power of the written word, or the vast blessing of knowledge as it becomes wisdom. I have become fascinated with impact writing leaves on the writer, the reader and collective thought.

All of the paintings in the series so far include a key, either painted or actual. Some even include a representation of a keyhole. If knowledge is the key, then the keyhole is wisdom.


words on a page
thoughts, opinions, actions
otherwise diminished

once documented
reader inspired, offended, informed
paper becomes stone

gained cannot be lost
entry granted
read on

© ginger meek allen 2009

Over the next several posts I will share my process with you. Continue reading to discover how this series was born, how each piece developed, and, as always, I welcome your feedback.


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~ by gingermeekallen on April 22, 2009.

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