The banner photo above is from an artist book I just finished for the Biographic show at Abecedarian Gallery in Denver. In this proposal, issued by Denver artist, Katie Taft, artists were to interview someone and then create a response to the interview.
When I received the invite, I was still working on Cecelia Kane's Hand-to-Hand Project so decided to interview her in her home. She talked while I went through a pile of her mother's handkerchiefs that she'd printed with photos
from her ongoing "How I'm Feeling" facebook project. We talked a lot about being raised Catholic; the use of counting in her art and how it relates to rosary beads and saying the rosary; the pretty hankies we all wore in the breast pockets of our Catholic school uniforms; the existence of God, etc.
With such good images: hankies, rosaries, photos and the built-in metaphor of the rosary as a tool for accessing the imagination, my own project came together pretty easily.
In the middle of it, my own mother died. This affect
ed the time I had to work on the new book but actually deepened my interest and emotional participation. After the Knuckle's funeral, I began working with my own hankies (given to me by my mom) and the Knuckle's rosaries (I left Florida with at least a dozen sets, including mom's, my dad's, my grandfather's ---you can't exactly throw these away.) It seemed as if the piece was now something I could do in memory of the Knuckle, as much as Cecelia's printing on her mom's hankies had been for her.
The imagined piece was quite different and much nicer th
an the initial pages turned out to be. I used laser print transfers and was attempting to create yet another pain-in-the-ass folded book that would unfold into a kind of maze, mimicking a rosary and the unanswerable questions we ponder while meditating. I used a 22 x 30 inch Canson paper, folded and cut into 16 5x7 inch pages. Oye.
LESSON: All projects are determined in their beginnings.
Artist books are very process oriented. There's a place for spontaneity but they really really need to be carefully planned. If they're not, they're expensive and disappointing.
Of course, I wound up ruining my first attempt, salvaging the second but only after more trips to Kinko's for yet more laser prints at a dollar a pop, only to have, the day before I promised to mail the finished book, a great idea. Which I executed. I'll have to wait a month before posting photographs because I was out of batteries and time when the whole things was at last finished and packed up last Wednesday.
I wound up making books of the individual prints/transfers. This meant that instead of one book with 16 pages (or 32 if you count the reverse
sides), I made about a dozen small books each with one page folded into 16 and cut.