Fire to Paper: Mark Calderon’s Pyrographic Prints

On the west wall by the Reference stacks are three pyrograph prints by local artist Mark Calderon: Loyola (1994), representing St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order; Purisma (1994), meaning ‘most pure,’ showcases an image of the Virgin Mary; Mandorla (1995) depicts the Virgin of Guadalupe surrounded by a golden aura.

"Loyola" (1994), "Mandorla" (1995), "Purisma" (1994)

Calderon works with a variety of materials and subjects, and these three pyrograph prints showcase some of his unique methods, including the use of fire to mark an image on paper. Calderon’s pyrography requires that he first shape the images onto branding irons made of ¼ inch steel. Next, he heats the iron in a forge before searing the image onto Mexican bark paper.

The son of a Mexican father and a mother of Norwegian-Irish descent, Calderon notes that his inspiration comes from his own multi-cultural background as well as the world surrounding him. “Some [influences] I am aware of,” he says, “and others still go unrecognized … I do not like to create images that read as only one thing, but try to create works that have both power and mystery.” (

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