Category : art, book, inspiration, time

I finished printing a new book last month and am deep in the binding process. I thought I would write a few posts about the book and my research into disappearing islands.

Solastalgia is a word I came across in connection to climate change. It was originally coined by Australian environmental philosopher Glenn Albrecht to refer to the mental or existential distress caused by environmental change, originally in relation to places being decimated by the mining industry. The word is a portmanteau of solace and nostalgia, and is meant to reflect the anxiety produced when your sense of place is being violated, the sense that you’re losing your home while you are still at home.

I wanted this book to encompass a few different things, and one of them was the sense of loss experienced while the world changes around you. Climate change is both slow-moving, in terms of the timescale of politics, and fast, in terms of the pace of landscapes and how they shift and degrade. One of my goals was to talk about groups of people experiencing the immediate effects of climate change right now, in the present, and the willful denial of their experience by people in positions of power. I also wanted to make tangible visual art out of a process that is often described as invisible (though I don’t think it is.) Similarly, tiny islands described as “the middle of nowhere” are often invisible, inaccessible, distant places we project fantasies onto; I wanted to make a book about what it is like to live there, and be a person from “the middle of nowhere”, because nowhere is somewhere for some people, many of whom are in the midst of being displaced now.

The word nostalgia is a trigger for me; I think as a letterpress printer it gets thrown around a lot, as an assumption that anything made using obsolete technology is by definition nostalgic. I think that I disagree with that. There are certainly lots of examples of fuzzy-headed sentimental letterpress work around, I can’t argue with that. But I think it’s possible to use a technique and visual language based in history as a way to tell a story that is rooted in history. And I think that history done well is the opposite of nostalgia. History in this book takes the forms of an account of the colonization and exploitation of Nauru, a tiny island in Micronesia, and the nuclear test bombing of the Marshall Islands. Sea level rise for islanders is only the most recent change in a series of events in their landscape.

The sentimental aspect of nostalgia shows up in the first part of the book, an extended speculation on the various kinds of utopian fantasies people have about islands. Islands are where we go to transform ourselves, where we are free from the troubles of our everyday lives, where the idealized fantasy out there lives. I structured the book as a progression from fantasy to reality.

To be continued. There’s a great article here on solastalgia, if you’re interested.

End of year marathon

Category : time

My favorite time of year is usually the two weeks at the end of December, when the city empties out of residents and fills up with tourists, and most people left don’t have anything particularly pressing to do. I always get a lot of distraction-free studio work done, which is true again this year, and I also get a lot of everything else done that I don’t have time for the rest of the year- like cleaning my stove or baking or reading. I usually try to visit a museum, which is always a bad idea (see: tourists); this year I was smart enough to not try, though I have plans for January in this arena.

This year flew by in a blur, and I’m not sure what to say about it; I made some new things, that I think I like, though since they are new I’m still not sure. I didn’t really travel, and I wish I had done so. I started using my film camera again, and love it. I went to the beach and went on lots of bike rides.

I taught a lot of students, who I hope learned something in the process.

I am making this book:

It’s all about disappearing islands.

And I made this pamphlet:

And I thought about what kinds of books I’d like to make next, and where and how.

I’m not sure what I think about year end review/ new years goal type things. I think there’s something both arbitrary and useful about reflection on what you’ve done and what you’d like to do, but for the most part what I’ve done and what I’d like to do for many years now have been small variations on the same thing, over and over again: learn something new, make something new, enjoy what I can do, try something I can’t. Get enough sleep, and spend time with people who enjoy my company. Repeat.

I am happy with this kind of life, and I expect to continue to be happy with this in the future, even while other things happen in my life and in the world at large that I cannot control. This means I’m lucky, and I’m glad for that.

Happy new year.


Return to Governor’s Island, Artist Summer Institute, new pamphlets, etc.

Category : inspiration, time

2015-08-05 09.10.00

I made a brief return to Governor’s Island this month, for LMCC and Creative Capital’s Artists Summer Institute, which takes a motley group of assorted artists, performers, writers, musicians, and inundates them with information on finances, strategic planning, marketing, communicating, and otherwise how to work more professionally. I’ve been to a variety of professional development workshops in a past life as an arts administrator, but this was far and away the best, and only partly to do with the fact that I was there to professionally develop myself, and not a malfunctioning institution. Mostly this was due to the really high quality of the program: great speakers giving actual useful information; interesting presentations; useful feedback; interesting fellow participants who were are truly supportive and excited to be there.

And did I mention it was free? Free as a bird, the whole shebang. I entered a lottery to get in, and for the first time in my life I won. Me! And it was perfect timing. They sent us off after five days with a mountain of new skills, homework, workbooks, and a new social circle to bounce ideas off of. Thank you so much for the opportunity.

gratuitous chicken
Enter a gratuitous Governor’s Island Chicken.

And so now you’ll be happy to know that I’m set to take on the world. Huzzah!

But what am I making, you ask? Enough with this business talk. I have started printing a summer zine, the details of which will remain a secret for the moment. I can tell you that there will be fish, and other living things, and glowing things, and text, and actual pages, that you turn. I think it will turn out nice, fingers crossed. Pictures soon. In the meantime, I am anxiously awaiting the day when I will finally stop sweating. Hope you are all staying cool.





It’s official, I’m setting sail

Category : inspiration, time

I’m leaving my full-time job as of the end of the month.

I’ve been running programs at the Center for Book Arts for 12 years, which is a very long time in one job at a very small organization. It has been everything to me for a long time. I have been extremely lucky to have been able to do work that I enjoy and think is important with a great group of artists.

However. While the community there has always been fantastic for me to be around, it has also always been a very demanding job. The last few years especially have been tough.

It’s time for a change, time for some rest and rejuvenation, time for a little peace and quiet.

I’m super excited, and very lucky, to have the ability to focus on my own work for a while, to figure out new things I want to do, to have a new routine and new priorities. It’s like a reset button has been pressed.

On the agenda: a bit of teaching, a new pamphlet, a new book, and who knows what else.Here’s to new beginnings. A perfect thing to think about for fall, don’t you think?

Studio view #2

Category : art, pamphlets, time

governors island studio wall

This is what wall #1 of the studio on Governors Island looks like so far.

governors island studio wall 2

This is what the other looks like. I’m there Sundays and Mondays for now, at the Center the rest of the week, and on Mondays after leaving the island I do this:

Manhattan Bridge run

Go on a long run in preparation for the NYC Marathon. Last night was 15 miles. It’s a bit much, and come Tuesday morning I’m noticeably stupider than normal. But right after I’m done? I have the heart of a lion.

I’m working on free! informational! pamphlets, hopefully a few different ones, in slightly smaller, new-and-different formats, in the hopes of distributing some to a captive audience at the open studio events that LMCC has planned. I’ve got one started already and plans for another are underway. I’m not sure if these are going to be all letterpress, all the time, (probably not), and they will be slightly less complex that the final one I’ll mail out at the end of the year, but I think they will be nice, and they are a place to put all the extra research that doesn’t really fit with the main storyline. Which will remain a secret, but rest assured that it will be awesome.

Oh, and the birds? They’re still coming, though slower than before, but I am chipping away at that in the evenings the rest of the week. I’m not a sprinter, after all, and it’s not a race. My time right now is almost completely scheduled, which is very productive, and mostly full of things I want to do, but it’s a lot.

In case you’re wondering what the first new mini-pamphlet will be about, it’s about this, which might be a portrait of Lord Cornbury, former colonial governor of New York and New Jersey, or else just a random homely Englishwoman. Lord Cornbury build a pleasure house on Governor’s Island at the beginning of the eighteenth century, which sounds a lot more decadent than it probably was.

All new! All the time!

Category : pamphlets, time

In honor of this week’s heat wave, I bring you some fresh-off-the-press news.

Bam! New Pamphlet, in the mail, despite the fact that I think I’m getting a heat rash.

Escape Wheel is the New Informational Pamphlet for Summer 2013. Escape Wheel concerns time: biological, mechanical, relative, and narrative. Why don’t you go to work in the middle of the night? Why don’t we still use water clocks? Who’s more useful, an inarticulate engineer or a dodgy astronomer? What is a sextant? And many other pressing questions, both of our time and the times of others. Includes diagrams, rants, and useful knowledge for many occasions.

And that’s not even all! I bring you the new home of all things pamphlet-related:

Yep, my babies have their own home now. Come on by for occasional paranoid rants and old-timey technological excursions by your very own contemporary pamphleteer. I made it myself!

On press.

Category : art, pamphlets, time

New Pamphlet in the Works: two runs down, innumerable ones to go. Everything else is somewhat on hold in the meantime.


Category : art, time

(Citywide block party! With running! Amazing!)


(I think this is finished, at least the video part is, but I have more to say about it. There’s lots of leftover prints now that I’d like to do something with. )

(The Quality of Life!)


Category : language, time

For this week.

(My favorite part is the shopping list.)

Sad and not fat.

Category : art, time

I’m out of paper and maybe only half way finished? Maybe less, I’m not sure. It looks pretty though. I might have to go back and print more of certain parts, and I’m not sure about the line breaks, or the pacing, or the colors. Well, some of the colors. Some of them are just ugly. But not this one. This one is pretty.


Category : language, time

Every year I spend the last six weeks of winter checking my watch every five minutes, waiting for spring to show up. 

It’s the least patient part of the year.  

I often pretend to have more patience than I actually do.

It has gotten warm enough to finally make running a better idea. That warm-on-the-inside, numb-on-the-outside feeling wore really thin. 

Distribution and running. 

Running and distribution. 

I think I just spend most days bouncing between the two.