The Lucky Dragon was a Japanese fishing vessel. In 1954, in search of new tuna fishing grounds the Lucky Dragon cast her nets 80 miles from an American hydrogen bomb test. The boat and crew were caught in a snow storm of hot radioactive coral flakes. The story of the crew became one small event in the movement to ban testing of nuclear weapons.
The Lucky Dragon Suite is not meant to examine and criticize the relationships of power in a documentary format. Its nature is more subtle and individualized. It is my necessity to make images that are both a reaction to power, as well as the essence of my own creative studio gesture, an intuitive sensitivity built up over years of studio work. This process provides me and numerous other artists with a voice. A voice that speaks of our social and political concerns through the poetics of the studio gesture. It is like no other form of expression. It is the essence of freedom. It records our concerns through expression, and sensibility. (Jun Quick To See Smith's painting of the early 1980's are a good example of this process of combining gesture and commentary.) The significance of these images is not reduced because of the modesty of their effect on events. That is not the role of The Lucky Dragon Suite. Its validity and significance comes in power and history being both confronted and individualized. The work produces a testament of individual perception, personal experience, confrontation, criticism, hope and anger.
LUCKY DRAGON SUITE
In 1985 an exhibition of my work was organized by George McKenna, Curator of Prints, Drawing and Photographs at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri. The exhibition featured a sequential series of etchings, The Lucky Dragon Suite. This suite of prints was based on an incident in which a crew of Japanese fishermen were unwittingly exposed to an America hydrogen bomb test in the mid 1950's. Altering a 24"x 36" zinc etching plate, I pulled one print a day then changed the plate pulling a new impression. Only one impression of each state exists. The impressions are monotypes; all changes were made by physically altering the plate. The plate was worked on for over 70 days producing 70 unique impressions which were edited into a series of 35 images. I discovered in the sequential process a mechanism for rethinking, reinvestigation, flux, and continuation. This process records and documents my studio narrative. The studio narrative is the act of making and remaking. It records both the changes in the material and the interaction between myself and the subject.
These prints have been re-edited into a series of 20 impressions, which make up the final series The Lucky Dragon Suite. They have been purchased by Nick Jannes of Chicago in October of 1994.