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  1. Book Artist of the Month: Sarah Bryant

    December 29, 2014 by Erin Fletcher

    Shift-SarahBryant

    Sarah Bryant is apart of the five-person collaborative group Shift-Lab, which she discusses more in-depth below. The image above shows the full spread of their first collaborative project, Shift, which was created in 2014 in an edition of 20. Each of the five artists created a small letterpress printed book that reflects a shift in perspective as well as a matching print. Both the books and prints were displayed at the San Francisco Center for the Book in 2014.

    The books are housed together in a custom drop-spine box shown third from the left with a printed title label.

    ShiftBaldwin-SarahBryant

    detail of Katie Baldwin’s book

    ShiftTreacy-SarahBryant

    left: detail of Tricia Treacy’s book | right: detail of Denise Bookwalter’s book

    ShiftChadwick-SarahBryant

    detail of Macy Chadwick’s book

    Can you discuss the collaborative group Shift-Lab. Who are its members and what type of projects do you work on together?
    Shift-lab is made up of myself, Katie Baldwin, Denise Bookwalter, Macy Chadwick and Tricia Treacy. We started as a group in the summer of 2013 and since then we’ve produced a book project (Shift) for an exhibition at the San Francisco Center for Book Arts, staged a pair of printing events (I had to be a remote participant, unfortunately,) and met for a week in North Carolina to print a project together. We will be exhibiting together at the Codex Book Fair in February, and are working on plans to meet for a skill share/book project next summer. You can find us all at shift-lab.org.

    Shift is a set of five books all with the same theme. Each of us created an edition of 20 books of the same dimensions. These five books are housed together in an enclosure. The books vary in content, Katie’s is an exploration into the different diggings of the Erie Canal. Tricia was interested in the shift key on a keyboard. I was having trouble sleeping while I was working on this project, and so my book evolved into a body shifting and moving in bed.

    ShiftInPosition-SarahBryant

    For your book Shift in Position, how did you monitor your sleeping behavior and then transfer the imagery into a print?
    I was spending a good portion of each night around this time rolling and repositioning myself in the hopes of getting to sleep. I didn’t monitor this activity, exactly, but took dozens of photographs of myself as I repeated the familiar movements I was doing each night. These photos were taken against a white background. I traced the shifting line of my body over and over again and layered these lines, creating the basic imagery for the book. The “book” is actually a series of panels that can be rearranged. Some of the imagery locks in together, some doesn’t. Text related to shift and change printed on the top and bottom of each panels always locks in to make some kind of sense. I wanted the process of rearranging the panels to be reminiscent of the kind of non-restful process dreaming that I was slipping in and out of at night.

    ShiftInPosition2-SarahBryant ShiftInPosition3-SarahBryant


  2. Book Artist of the Month: Sarah Bryant

    December 22, 2014 by Erin Fletcher

    Simulations-SarahBryant

    I really enjoyed this week’s response by Sarah Bryant on her inspiration and creative process behind Simulations on a Two-dimensional Grid. You can read about it below, but first the specs. Simulations was created in 2013 in an edition of ten. Zerkall paper is used for the pages and have been manipulated with letterpress printing, hand-drawn imagery, wax and folding. The loose pages are bound up in a waxed paper wrapper also decorated with hand-drawn imagery.

    Simulations2-SarahBryant Simulations3-SarahBryant

    Two sources of inspiration are behind this artist book: Barb Tetenbaum’s Aritst Book Idealation Deck and David Allen’s 2011 dissertation. Can you talk about how these two pieces came together as a guide for the concept of this artist book?
    So in late 2012, Barb Tetenbaum invited me to participate in a show using a set of cards that she and Julie Chen had developed over several years called “The Artist Book Ideation Deck.” The deck has categories for structure, paper, layout, technique, text, image, color, and description. It also has “adjective” cards. Barb and Julie drew random hands from this deck for all of the artists who would be making a book for the show. My hand went as follows:

    Imagery: none
    Structure: unbound/boxed
    Text: collaborate with writer/poet/other
    Layout: across folds
    Color: favorite
    Technical: hand drawn, painted/collaged, etc.
    Paper: pre-treated, crumpled, painted, pasted, etc.
    Describe: narrative
    Adjectives: personal, scientific, ordinary, complicated, colorful

    Dave Allen and I had been talking at this point about collaborating on a book, (this was just before his visit to the UK and the beginning of our Figure Study project,) so I turned to him for some text. He sent me a few excerpts from his PhD thesis for the University of Michigan and I selected this one: Simulations on a two-dimensional grid reveal that if the conditions are met to destabilize the spatially homogenous equilibrium then individual patches cycle out of phase with their neighbors. At any particular time the grid has a checkerboard-like structure (Figure 2.1), and through time individual patches exhibit a two-cycle.

    We worked together to pair it down to the following: Simulations on a two-dimensional grid reveal that if conditions are met to destabilize the equilibrium, individuals cycle out of phase with their neighbors. This felt more like a universal text, open-ended enough to invite us in and call for different interpretations.

    Once the text was selected, it was time to work with it and knead it into a book using the external prompts that came from the Ideation Deck. I used a series of folds, expanding from sheet to sheet, to disturb a grid made up of holes and lines. I loved this project, it forced me to do some new things that I surely wouldn’t have attempted without a set of instructions. Waxing the pages, for example. Also the loose sheet format that I have adopted for two subsequent projects.

    Several people have pointed out that my book is not strictly following the guidelines set by the deck. It does have imagery, for example, even if that imagery is minimal. And of course this is true. But the deck is meant to generate ideas, and so I considered the cards as prompts rather than unbreakable rules. You can still get the decks, by the way. I use mine all the time in classes or just to get my mind moving.

    – – – – – – – – – – –

    Setting limitations for a project can bring unique challenges and even heighten creativity. I was so thrilled to learn about Tetenbaum and Chen’s Idealation Deck. I may need to get my own copy and begin exploring artist books again.

    If you’d like to read a more in-depth description of Simulations, check out Heather Doyle-Maier’s review on the Abecedarian Gallery Blog, where she describes the tactile qualities of the book.


  3. Book Artist of the Month: Sarah Bryant

    December 15, 2014 by Erin Fletcher

    AlMutanabbiStreet-SarahBryant

    For the traveling exhibit Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here, Sarah Bryant crafted Al-Mutanabbi Street to memorialize those who lost there lives to a car bomb on March 5, 2007. Bound between two boards is an entangled ribbon of red paper letterpress printed with an incomplete list of names. This altered accordion lays open in a custom box; the colophon is print on the base of the box hidden under the book’s cover.

    AlMutanabbiStreet2-SarahBryant AlMutanabbiStreet3-SarahBryant

    The text of this artist book rests in a position of entanglement and chaos, but in fact the lines of paper can be separated rather easily. The names printed on the underside represent a portion of those who lost their lives. I’ve seen a variety of books from this show and really love the simplicity of your piece, which is also largely impactful. It presents itself like a memorial; can you talk about your concept for this artist book?

    I wasn’t sure how to approach this book. I had no personal connection to the bombing or to the affected community, or, frankly, to any tragedy of this scale. I was concerned that in an attempt to honor the dead and the community to which they belonged, I might make a bumbling and insensitive book. So I tried to keep it simple and avoid pretending an understanding that I could not have.

    I printed the names of the dead in Arabic and English, each name lining up with it’s counterpart on the two sides of the strips of paper, and housed them in a structure that I hoped conveyed a sense of violence and loss. I wanted the names to be legible, but fragile, and in a position of distress. The box is vaguely coffin-like. I am glad to hear your reaction to the book, thank you.

    AlMutanabbiStreet4-SarahBryant


  4. Book Artist of the Month: Sarah Bryant

    December 8, 2014 by Erin Fletcher

    Biography-SarahBryant

    In 2010, Sarah Bryant completed Biography, which explores of the alternative roles played by the chemical elements found in the human body. Each element is represented as a specific colored rectangle, which are used in various diagrams throughout the book. As you progress through the book the diagrams become less clear and are interrupted with blind stamped organic shapes. Biography won the 2011 Minnesota Center for Book Arts Prize in addition to receiving the Award for Artistic Excellence at the Pyramid Atlantic Book Arts Fair in late 2010.

    Printed in an edition of 75 using letterpress techniques from polymer plates on Zerkall Book, Biography was bound as a hardcover drum leaf enclosed in a clamshell box. Numbers one through ten are bound as a deluxe edition (pictured above), which include additional prints from the book, as well as a ghost print creating during the printing process. The deluxe edition comes in a larger clamshell box designed to house both the book and set of prints.

    Biography4-SarahBryant Biography3-SarahBryant Biography5-SarahBryant

    In The Bonefolder article Evolution of an Artist’s Book, you mention that Biography took 2 years to complete. The inspiration led to extensive research and preparation before embarking on months of printing. Is this an average amount of time needed to complete a project?
    Most of my big books take about two years. Dave and I first conceived of Figure Study in January of 2013 and I have set a release date to coincide with the Codex Book Fair and Symposium in February of 2015. I started working on Fond when I was at Wells College in early 2011 and released it in the fall of 2012. Two years seems to be my average these days. But in the background there are other things emerging. While the larger projects are proceeding at their slow pace, I am working on quicker, smaller things. A book I printed with Shift-lab, a collaboration between myself, Katie Baldwin, Denise Bookwalter, and Tricia Treacy took me about six months in 2013. Simulations on a Two-Dimensional Grid, a book I created for the Ideation by Chance show at the Seager Gray Gallery in Mill Valley, California, took me a few months. Those books were done in smaller editions and in response to external collaborations and deadlines.

    Since I’m not a printmaker, the printing process behind You are part of something larger than yourself is puzzling to me. Can you walk me through the printing steps for this particular print?

    Biography2-SarahBryant

    Aha! Yes I can. And, in fact, if you really want to know more about it, a lecture I gave at Wells college several years ago contains a detailed description of that process, with photos! Thanks to Peter Verheyen, you can find it on youtube here:

    My description begins at 29:09 and ends about three minutes later.

    That spread and one other in the book toward the end, (described in the above video,) are pressure printed against a polymer plate of the periodic table grid. I inked the press in two colors (for a color shift) and printed the first run, then cleaned the press and inked it again in the reverse and so on so that there are many layers and colors at play. The blob-shaped forms are generated by paper cutouts that I have attached to the impression cylinder of the press. So the printed imagery is coming from the combination of the traditional, inked relief surface (the grid in the bed of the press) and the uneven pressure created by the paper shapes on the cylinder.

    BiographyProcess-SarahBryant


  5. December // Book Artist of the Month: Sarah Bryant

    December 2, 2014 by Erin Fletcher

    FigureStudy-SarahBryant

    As a work still in progress, Figure Study is a creative collaborative project between book artist and printer Sarah Bryant (Big Jump Press) and her biology professor cousin, Dave Allen. In the interview below, I’ve asked Sarah a series of questions about this project because its production is partially possible due to a successful Kickstarter fund. And of, course due to the brilliance of the design and content of the project.

    Figure Study is a book about population data. Housed in a custom box is a series of population diagrams printed on drafting film. The translucency of the drafting film allows one to arrange the prints in unique combinations creating new sets of data and artistic forms.

    FigureStudy2-SarahBryant

    Figure Study has an interactive element. How do you see the owner of this work connecting with the population diagrams?
    I hope that the process of comparing the shapes will be a truly addictive one. I find it that way. Of course, the owner of the book will be able to look at the figures in a purely analytical way if they wish, layering a sheet of drafting film printed with a figure onto a grid and using the index to determine which regions are represented. But additionally the layering yields beautiful forms and stark contrasts that appeal to both the analytical parts of our brains and our more basic appetite for creating and experimenting.

    It is interesting to me that over the last two years or so I have made three “books” that are essentially composed of loose sheets that can be rearranged. I didn’t set out to do it this way, but somewhere in the back of my mind I have been interested in the viewer reshuffling and recombining the content. I think this book is the natural conclusion of that impulse because the reshuffling of the data is so essential to the core of the book. Comparing, revealing differences and similarities, investigating.

    – – – – – – – – – – –

    I’m really excited to present this interview with Sarah Bryant. I continue to enjoy the work she produces and was pushed to conduct this interview from as a suggestion given by Michelle Ray, who I interviewed last year. Sarah is creating really interesting artist books in beautifully designed and bound formats. I recently made a pledge toward Sarah and Dave’s successful Kickstarter fund and am anxiously awaiting my reward. I see Kickstarter as a potential avenue for other book artists to fund their ambitious projects and a goal of this interview was to discuss the entire process with Sarah.

    Check out the interview after the jump for more about Sarah, her background and creative process. Come back each Monday during the month of December for more about Sarah’s work.

    read more >


  • Visit My Bindery
    My name is Erin Fletcher, owner and bookbinder of Herringbone Bindery in Boston. Flash of the Hand is a space where I share my process and inspirations.
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