Items 1 – 16 do not appear with complete cataloging information here as they constitute undergraduate works and early pieces predating the annual cycle of book production established when I moved to Bologna in September, 1989. Most of these works are in public collections. Some are in private hands. I will elaborate briefly on the first eight works, created in connection with Phillips Academy, Andover, Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design.
“History of Technology” was the result of an Independent Project or individually designed, faculty supervised trimester course, in the Visual Studies Dept. at Phillips Academy, Andover. Although my intent was to create a book, I was not aware of the genre of artist’s books when I wrote the proposal. However, my printmaking instructor and advisor Shirley Veenema informed me of this branch of contemporary art and indicated some galleries in New York City which displayed them. I was a bit baffled and amused by what I saw, and stuck to my original idea of a scroll. Respecting my creative process, the instructor arranged for me to look at some Japanese scrolls with a curator in the adjacent Addison Gallery of American Art, part and parcel of Phillips Academy. The project resulted in a twelve-foot mixed-media scroll with technology represented by a dragon.
Upon graduation from high school, I was awarded the Mark Larner Fellowship to create another book with printmaking techniques titled “Sleep Peacefully”. It comprises a suite of collographs(relief prints with tectured printing plates) with text geared to children. It was inspired by letters written by children expressing their fears regarding nuclear war, and attempts to address those fears.
Items 3,4 and 5 were created for Janet Zweig’s course “Concrete Books” in the Graphics Dept. at RISD. “Entropy”, a performance book, is created anew each time out of four blocks of ice with a text suspended in the frozen pages. It manifests the concept of entropy in both nature and communication theory. It has been recreated several times since in Italy and America with a different text each time taken from local newspapers.
“Plastic”is made out of white plastic and styrofoam fast-food packaging and implements, adorned with a stark press-type text commenting on the waste of mono-use plastic. It reflects research conducted contemporaneously for a paper on recycling plastic for an environmental studies course at Brown. “Greetings from Palermo” was an extra item created to give to the other students in the course, as required, because I doubted people wanted styrofoam containers. In retrospect, it is sort of a precursor to “Dis cover Italian Monuments” as it plays with the realities of the tourist’s experience, the ones not depicted on a picture postcard, with six views of street life in Palermo photographed on a year abroad to Italy on the Brown-in-Bologna Program.
“Rags Make Paper” was the final project for a papermaking course at Brown taught by Walter Feldman. The assignment was simply to make a book. It is an accordion-fold book of handmade rag paper and pulp paintings with cloth hinges which span the length of the book, sandwiched between the pages with a hydraulic press. The work contains the anonymous eponymous poem, found at the beginning of one of the John Hay Library’s wonderful Dard Hunter books, which I was allowed to peruse in the stacks during the tenure of my student job in the bindery of the library. This was the same student job held once upon a time by Richard Minsky, founder of the Center For Book Arts in New York City.
“Wetatonmi” and “Mappa Mundi” were both created for the course “Printed Books” taught by Jan Baker in the Graphics Dept. at RISD. They are the only two letterpress books typeset by my own two hands thus far. In the first, the assignment was to make a pop-up book. As the pop-ups I experimented with suggested Native American iconography, I decided to create a work embodying a Native American text, and came upon the touching words of Wetatonmi, a Nez Perce woman, sister-in-law of Chief Joseph. It is housed in a rubber-stamped paper envelope based on a “par fleche” or rawhide envelope used by the Plains Indians to store and transport dried meat. “Mappa Mundi” is a book dedicated to the history of maps and mapmaking in different cultures in history, with a binding that reflects how atlases were bound in centuries past, based on one such binding in the John Carter Brown Library.