Di Falco’s driving force behind this series originated with his research into the Gullah, a community of freed and escaped African American slaves that settled on the unexplored islands off South Carolina’s Coast. The Gullah People began settling here long before slavery’s abolition. These West African people developed their own Creole culture and language, and their proud descendents still thrive on the same islands of South Carolina today. The Gullah People continue to be noted for their intricate basket weaving and beautiful pottery. Doris Ulmann, an American photographer of Pictorialism 1882-1934 , documented the Gullah’s lifestyles, crafts and customs in the early part of the Twentieth Century. One of her photos depicts a baptism in a river and it was this image that captivated Di Falco. He created five original drawings based on Ulmann’s photo and translated one of these into an etching.
When the U. S. Civil War began, the North blockaded Confederate shipping routes. White planters on the Sea Islands, fearing an attack by US naval forces, abandoned their plantations and fled to the South Carolina mainland. When Union forces arrived on the Sea Islands in 1861, they found the Gullah people eager for their freedom, and enthusiastic to defend it. Many Gullah served with distinction in the Union Army s First South Carolina Volunteers. The Sea Islands were the first place in the South where slaves were granted their freedom. Long before the War ended, Unitarian missionaries from the state of Pennsylvania arrived on the islands to open schools for the newly liberated Gullah. Penn Center, now a Gullah community organization on Saint Helena Island, South Carolina, originated as the first school for freed slaves.
Gullah groups made three celebrated homecomings to Sierra Leone in 1989, 1997, and 2005. Sierra Leone is at the heart of the traditional rice-growing region of West Africa where many of the Gullahs ancestors originated. In 2006 the U. S. Congress passed the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Act”, which provided 10 million for the preservation and understanding of historic sites in the Low Country relating to Gullah culture.
Di Falco has limited this etching to just four editions of only five prints per edition. These editions are executed in different ink and paper color schemes. After the third edition’s printing, Di Falco plans to create five additional etchings each of these will be enhanced with watercolors and gouache, making the final run into a series of one-of-a-kind artworks that combine printmaking with painting.
This hauntingly mysterious intaglio and aquatint etching by Jerry Di Falco was executed in oil base ink from Paris –Charbonnel brand—printed on RivesBFK white etching paper, also manufactured in France. Di Falco also incorporated the Chine collè process, which required treated mulberry bark paper from Thailand. A description of this technique is added at the end of the description. This etching comes with a wood and glass frame and a museum quality mat. Brown craft PAPER IS GLUED to the frame back of the frame to protect the etching. The work ships to the collector in a sturdy cardboard box, and the frame measures about 17inches high inches by 13 inches wide. The work is wired and ready for hanging.
The work is executed on two zinc, etching plates that were developed in five separate Nitric acid baths. The use of multiple plates is a Di Falco trademark in his attempt to make his viewers see his scenes through a window. The print size is about eleven inches wide by fifteen inches high, and each zinc plate measures six inches wide by four inches high. A space of about .25 inches separates the top and bottom plates. This makes the printed image size to be about 8.25 by eleven inches wide. Di Falco printed and published this work of three editions at The Center for Works on Paper in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania he used an industrial size press made by Charles Brand in New York City.
Half of artist s proceeds from this sale will go to support The Sacred Heart School s Art Program in Camden, New Jersey--the grammar school attended by the artist in the late 1950s and 1960s. Camden, New Jersey, is one of the poorest cities in the US.
Gullah People, Slavery, African American, South Carolina, Water Baptism, Dorris Ulmann, Cr, Original Printmaking, Americana Printmaking