The new serigraph, "David and Goliath", grew out of an acrylic painting of 1980 with the same title. For 25 years I have thought about this image and I decided to take it up again and print it as a serigraph edition. I thought about refining the early drawings and developing more colors in the image. I began working on the serigraph in November 2004 and it was completed in June 2005. There were 60 separate printings. I made a drawing for each color printed. This was a long process of looking, observing the progress, making changes, and giving form to the image with each printing. After days of drawing the stencil, the printer transferred the drawing to a special photographic film that adhered to the freshly prepared fabric on the silk screen frame. Then it was ready for printing. The elaborate drawings and layers of colors printed achieve a unique landscape: hills, plants, animals, distant cities, orchards and many figures. It is a panorama, an epic scene. But the epic is not one of soldier against soldier, of army against army on a barren battlefield. It doesn't take place in some "no man's land". The struggle between David and Goliath takes place where all battles do, in the midst of everyday life, in a world of rich colors and beautiful landscapes, where plants and flowers grow, where people labor to plant and harvest, build cities and play music. The "hero story" is surrounded by another heroic tale - that of all those who cultivate, maintain and celebrate life. It is the victory of the shepherd David, not the soldier David that is hoped for here. The printing process is always difficult, as the alignment of the printed image on the paper is crucial, as well as the color of the ink : "Too dark? Too transparent? Is it the right shade?" One must make decisions, compromises, face many challenges. There are risks involved in this long process of building, and the layering of the printed inks, depth and textures. Yes, the process is difficult but, through it, I have found that the story has become a part of me.
Reflections on DAVID AND GOLIATH
David goes forward alone, with 6 stones in his shepherd bag and a sling shot. What a beautiful story for us. The army is powerless, afraid, and unable to move for fear of the strong Goliath. David moves forward, barefoot, without fear. He faces the supreme death machine, the technological cutting edge of the time, in the armor and weaponry of conquest. He has politely refused to wear the armor of King Saul, finding it too uncomfortable, heavy, and useless for the battle ahead. He speaks to this powerful giant and knocks him down with his slingshot. I believe this story continues today in the lives of people who speak out and stand against those who would conquer. They encourage and empower us with their courage. They are humans who see indignities, oppression, war and suffering and refuse to accept the inevitability of its victory over us. David has the spirit of hope. He is looked upon as foolish. He is stepping out of other people's limiting framework of what a shepherd can do. When others begin to be like David, and challenge power, they are considered foolish, ineffective, and good for nothing. When we see everyday, ordinary people following their ideals we might reflect on the passage from 1st Corinthians: "God chooses the foolish so as to confound the wise, God chooses the weak so as to confound the mighty." David has continued to have the audacity to speak to Goliath. David, the shepherd boy, spoke through the voice of Cesar Chavez, saying, "Si se puede!" (Yes we can!). David, the shepherd boy, spoke through the voice of Martin Luther King Jr. singing, "We shall overcome!" David, the shepherd boy, spoke through the voice of Gandhi calling us to "be the change you want to see in the world". David continues to confront Goliath through the lives of those, known and unknown to us, who transcend limitations and offer extraordinary service to the world in which we live. They are the people who are the peacemakers and the defenders of human rights, empowering others to work for justice. They face great obstacles and challenges of violence as they work for change. We are inspired by their heroic lives as they overcome fear and weakness. And we are reminded that giants are often more vulnerable and shepherds more powerful than they may appear.
John August Swanson June, 2005
An original, hand-printed serigraph published by the artist with collaboration of master printer James F. Butterfield II at Aurora Serigraphic Studio, Van Nuys, California.
Completed June, 2005.
Edition Size: 250
Dimensions: Image: 21" x 31"
Paper: 25" x 38"
Paper: 100% cotton rag, acid free
Colors: 60 colors printed
Detail from David & Goliath