This week, we are sharing House of Cods, a finely printed pop-up book featuring a poem by Carol Schatt. The book was designed, printed, and assembled by Linda Smith in 1996 at the Picnic Press in Phoenix, Arizona in an edition of 50. The book is an environmental warning framed in the guise of a playful and engaging pop-up. Once the viewer is seduced by this apparently entertaining structure, there is no backing out, and they are met instead with sober contents of impending doom. Smith makes use of the pop-up not as we conceive of it today–a structure to amaze and delight–but rather as it was originally intended–a didactic tool for instruction and explanation.
The poem, which is told from the perspective of the cod fish, warns of the dangers of overfishing and disrupting the marine environment. The seemingly playful popup design mirrors this warning, depicting a house of cards, topped by a boat, which rests upon a foundation of fish. Netting from the top of the boat descends down the construction, and then flows as a printed impression over the paper and the text of the poem, giving the illusion that the lament of the fish has been caught in the nets. Once humanity has “emptied the seas completely” we will “hear the slow sad echo and then no more,” and the house of cards that is the fishing industry will come toppling down.
Linda Smith was a student of John Risseeuw, another printmaker, papermaker, and book artist who also uses themes of environmental and social justice. The text for this books is handset Optima foundry type with relief line engravings. The Gyotaku fish impressions were printed on a variety of Mexican, Philippine, and Thai handmade papers.
The Ring of Fire Anthology is a collection of the zine from the late 1990s by ET Russian (aka Hellery Homosex), and features new material never before published. Ring of Fire is honest, engaging, and ahead of its time.
Through black and white ink drawings, comics, linoleum block print portraits, essays, interviews and erotica, this collection explores the intersections of art, bodies, healthcare, ability, gender, race, community, class, healing and the politics of work.
Alternately emotional and erotic, funny and political, Ring of Fire tells the author’s personal story, and captures the work and words of various artists and leaders from disability culture and history. A young activist steeped in the cultures of queer and punk, Russian embraced a cultural identity of disability while writing Ring of Fire. Years later, Russian examines what it means to work in healthcare in the United States.
This selection of zines, postcards and copier art were donated to the Book Art Collection in Special Collections and Archives by Mitzi Humphrey (MFA, class of 1997). Humphrey is active in the RIchmond, Va. arts scene, and is co-founder and co-director of Art6 Gallery.
Copier art flourished during the 1980s before the widespread use of computers and printers. Photocopy art allowed artists to have complete control over the creation and dissemination of their work.
Pleased to announce our newest book arts acquisition:
The Deep by Kevin Steele.
“The Deep is a tribute to maritime folklore and tradition developed over centuries of nautical exploration… [It] is a circular accordion pop-up book which unfolds to an oversized eight-point compass rose. The compass, arguably the sailor’s most valuable instrument, not only enables accurate navigation but brings good luck, ensuring safe passage home and protecting against a watery end in the Deep.”
If you want to take a look in person just stop by the desk in our reading room and our librarians will probably offer a bit of assistance. I particularly recommend getting a group together and stopping by since it is a great one to gather around.