The First Circle
About ten months ago, I stumbled across a drawing of Dante’s nine circles of Hell by Barry Moser. The diagrammatical nature of the drawing—almost a cross-section—appealed to me. My father once pointed out to me that floating masses of earth have become a staple of my visual repertoire. I started in on a series of drawings that were to translate the nine circles’ transgressions into modern environmental degradations. Then about four months later, I had the rare occasion to sit down with my longtime friend, Jeff Shotts, poetry editor at Graywolf Press. He drew my attention to the fact that Graywolf was ready to release a new translation of Dante’s Inferno by Mary Jo Bang, reviewed in the Brooklyn Rail. To my delight, Henrik Drescher, a long-time favorite illustrator of mine, created a small number of images for the book, and I am looking forward to getting my hands on my own copy. In the meantime, I forge slowly forward on these drawings, executed in ink and digital processes. I haven’t decided which degradation will coincide with which ring of hell, but I have started at the bottom, where the sin of treachery reigns. And I’m working my way up.
I have saved copies of the various photoshop layers to reveal a bit of the creative process.
Drawing of Dante’s Circles of Hell, copyright Barry Moser. All other images, copyright, Ned Gannon 2012.