Emily Martin – The Tragedy of King Lear


© 2019
edition of 25
dimensions in inches: 12 x 6 x .75

About this piece:

I began reading King Lear again after the 2016 presidential election. As I read the play, I tried to focus only on the themes of the tragedy. I also studied the book Man Ray Human Equations {a journey from mathematics to Shakespeare}. There are many differences between this play and current events and there are some similarities too. The vanity and folly of an aging man is a family tragedy. When that man is also the leader of a nation it becomes a tragedy for the whole country. Each page spread has a question or observation that came to mind as I read, there is a quote from the play by one of the many main characters and then the characters involved interact in some manner related to the question. I always think of King Lear as the sun and all the other characters orbit around him. Some of the characters have others orbiting around them too, Gloucester and his sons and the daughters with their husbands. The characters are not identified specifically but context makes clear who is who.


paper, ink, thread

About the artist:

Lives and works in Iowa City, Iowa, United States

Emily Martin earned an MFA degree in painting, from the University of Iowa in 1979. She joined the faculty of the University of Iowa Center for the Book in 1998. Martin’s books are included in public and private collections in the United States and internationally, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Bodleian Libraries, Oxford, England; the Library of Congress. Martin has two adult daughters and lives in Iowa City, IA with her Vandercook SP15. She rides her bicycle as often as she can, sometimes all the way across the state of Iowa.


Emily Martin – The Tragedy of King Lear