Since this was always one of my favorite pieces, I had saved writing about it on here for later in my series of prints, and I eventually forgot to write about it. But since I recently made a couple of prints of it available on my etsy shop, I figure this would be a good time to reintroduce it.
I made this print while I was studying in Florence Italy, after our teacher had encouraged us to make a series out of our exploration of different types of printmaking. I had already created the first Madonna and Child with a linoleum block, and the next was copper plate etching, also known as intaglio. So I went full-out Madonna and chose an iconic image of Mary holding the just recently crucified Jesus, and created Raptor Mary and Triceratops Jesus after Michelangelo’s Pieta, located in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City (Rome), Italy.
I thought the image didn’t feel right with Raptor Mary holding Raptor Jesus, and wouldn’t that be a treat sticking those two keywords together. But Triceratops Jesus felt more right, his three horns representing the trinity. He reminds me of the original Jurassic Park movie, when Dr. Grant and Dr. Sattler discover the sick triceratops, and we share a moment of empathy with the animal out-of-time:
They’re not the same species, and I think that is significant, it makes the Madonna mysterious as we do not know whether she wants to eat this dead animal in her arms. Writing this made me recall the dream that inspired this image, (it was quite graphic so stop reading and skip to the next paragraph if you are easily disturbed), there was a Raptor, seated, holding in its arms the flayed and bloody skin of a man, with hyenas at his feet lapping up the blood. So I created a decidedly less-graphic version of that for class.
The process was a matter of covering the copper plate with resin, using a pointed tool to draw the image, and then dipping the plate in an acid bath to etch into the plate in the scratched out areas. This was done many times, probably at least ten, though I can’t quite remember. The repeated dipping allowed for a greater variance of texture, using the resin like paint to allow certain areas to be preserved while others darken through repeated dippings in the acid bath. The gradual darkening can be seen through the two images below:
Raptor Mary is reverent as she holds her deceased child, who is not of the same class of beings as her, though they both possess the body of Man. She offers the fruit of her womb as a sacrifice, as much as she offers herself and her life as a sacrifice to something that is not hers. She cannot eat the fruit of her womb, as the mother’s wish is for her children to bear fruit of their own. This idea serves as the preamble for the next print in the series, “Mary Devouring Her Son” after Goya’s “Saturn Devouring His Son”.
Be sure to grab a print of Raptor Pieta on my Etsy!