Gyotaku-style prints made from alligators

Check out this wild story—complete with photos and video—about an artist, Leslie Charleville, who makes “gyotaku”-style prints from ALLIGATORS. And, yes, she lives in Louisiana. On her website she describes herself and the process of gyotaku:

Leslie Charleville is a Louisiana artist who specializes in the 17th century Japanese art form of gyotaku, or fish rubbing. Originally, gyotaku was a means to document the size and species of a fisherman’s catch. Leslie has mastered this sophisticated technique on not only fish and marine life but also Louisiana’s most popular mascot, the alligator.

From Leslie: “The art is secondary to the message I want to leave with people who I meet. More than anything, I want folks to look at what I do and recognize that’s there a Light on L.Chareville Studios that transcends this world… ..after all, it’s not my talent to begin with. I just want to use it for good and make a difference in the lives of the people I encounter!”

What is gyotaku? Beginning in the 17th century, Japanese fishermen used a printmaking process called “gyotaku” to document their catches, recording the animal’s size and individual characteristics with sumi ink on rice paper.

The artist began making prints with fish, and still does, but now she specializes in alligators. She accompanies alligator hunters on their expeditions and then makes the prints after the alligator is killed. She prepares and poses the alligator, rolls acrylic paint on it, and then presses cotton duck fabric on the animal, to make the print. The Advocate explains:

Alligator hunters call here throughout the hunting season to accompany them on hunts. Afterwards, Charleville makes the prints on site. Charleville kicked off the beginning of alligator season, Aug. 31, with a hunt led by Logan Davis. The trip resulted in several prints, which, she says, not only honor the animal but also its creator.

You can see photos here from her most recent expedition and see her making a print from a 10 foot long alligator caught by Logan Davis. You can also purchase prints—of fish, alligators, and other marine life—from her website.

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