The play Casina by the early Roman playwright Plautus is a farcical comedy that tells the story of a father and son who compete for the love of a slave girl, who is later revealed to be a free-born Athenian. Before that conclusion, the older man’s scheming efforts are comically foiled by the various ruses and machinations of his wife, her friend and their ally, a clever slave girl.
Pictured here is the puppet grex, the troupe of “actors” who perform in my film rendition of the play. Like actors in a repertory company, these puppets can fulfill roles in other plays, and as in ancient Roman performances, all the puppet actors are male, including those who play female characters. The puppets’ heads are made from papier mache with fake fur hair. The bodies are cloth.
I made five of the seven puppets pictured here to perform in my film The Princess and the Peacock. Two of the puppets, Apollo and King Jupe, were made for another puppet piece and given new roles. Their heads are papier mâché covered with hand-dyed silk organza. Most of the puppets, particularly the women, wear doll wigs of the sort that are made for 18” ball-jointed dolls. Some of the men’s wigs were made from fake fur. The bodies, made with stretch fabric, and the costumes, made from a variety of materials, were created by Tamara Somerfield of Somerfield Studios, www.somerfieldstudios.com. Each puppet has a black fabric tube attached to its back, which is where the puppeteer’s hand goes. All of the puppets’ hands come from baby dolls purchased at the Goodwill. Yes, this involved transplant surgery and yes, it was weird. But the show must go on.
Make New Friends
I created Make New Friends as a birthday gift for a long-time friend. The text, “Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold,” are the words to the well-known girl scout and camp song of the same name. The leaves are dried laurel leaves that have been painted with gold acrylic paint. They are decorated with paintings of trees and birds, also in acrylic, inspired by the frescoes from Livia’s Villa, originally in Prima Porta, north of Rome and which can now be seen in the National Museum of Rome. I connected the leaves with four strands of thick gold metallic thread. The heart and key charms at each end of this piece — hard to see in the photos — represent friendship.
When the work is displayed in its dark blue circular box, made by Mare Blocker of M. Kimberly Press, www.presstidigitation.com, it resembles a necklace or an ancient Roman laurel crown.
One day I found some imprinted tissue paper in a cardboard produce box, originally used to protect pears during shipping. I took them home and ironed them and decided they would form the basis for this book, Pear Flags, created as a 37th birthday gift for a good friend. Using a linoleum block, I printed each page with a hollow star in the colors of Tibetan prayer flags. On the reverse sides, I glued found imagery that pertained to the recipient’s life and his interests.
I realized that I was transitioning from prayer flags to pear flags, so to accompany the artwork I wrote a story about an ancient pear goddess, written from the viewpoint of a fictional anthropologist and pear flag scholar. Katie Dodsley assembled the work in the style of Tibetan books: loose pages between the covers and in this case, bound by a ribbon.
The photos are by Jules Frazier, www.julesfrazier.com.
In 2003 we discovered that our house had an insidious level of toxic mold. My family had to move into a rental property for the eight-month long remediation process, and my four cats and two dogs had to be boarded. I started to consider the effects of our animals’ limited freedom and, while we humans were not literally imprisoned, we no longer had unfettered access to our home and belongings. I thought about our own restricted autonomy and began contemplating the concept of captivity. During this time, in response to these circumstances, I created a 13’ x 4’ painting titled In Captivity.
I used the painting to produce an edition of eight books, also titled In Captivity. The large scale work was photographed and reduced in size and each element was digitally reproduced and cut out. The four layer nested accordion book incorporates these collaged digital elements as well as hand painting and embellishments. The eight editions are similar, but also unique: the colors and the back covers differ from each other.
Lisa Kieffer and Nick Miller were my studio assistants. Katie Dodsley made the binding and Scott Dalrymple did the digital and graphic design. The photographs were taken by Jules Frazier, www.julesfrazier.com.
This artist’s book was motivated by Raven in the Palm Tree, a poem by Robert Gore. I hung a copy of the poem in my studio and over the course of two years read it frequently while working on other projects. I decided that I wanted to create a piece inspired by Gore’s words and with his permission — his blessing, really — I began work on Raven.
Raven is an accordion structure made of fabric pages that can be read on both sides starting at either end of the book. One side displays a series of ravens in flight, each page containing embroidered lines of the text, framed by red and white stripes, painted in acrylic. Unfolding the book from the opposite side reveals a map of the North American west coast, the land that the raven flies over on his journey from British Columbia to Los Angeles. The color scheme — red, white and black — references Pacific Northwest Native American art and culture in which ravens are revered and frequently depicted.
The book is housed in a painted red canvas wrapper with a raven and the title depicted in black. I used acrylic paint. The wrapped book is enclosed in a large box made from bookboard covered with book cloth, painted red and inset with an appliquéd black cloth raven on a white background. The colophon was printed by Jules Faye of Stern and Faye Printers, www.sternandfaye.com. Jules Faye also made the boxes. Scott Dalrymple did the graphics and Hannah Ricker Bruckbauer, Nick Miller and I sewed the pages. Raven is an edition of 5.
The Wind, The Bells
(Book, Jim Koss Poems from 1953-2017)
“The Wind, the Bells” is available on Amazon.com
Under the Wings of Artemis – Catalog
Under the Wings of Artemis: The Crossroads of Scholarship and Art, Themes from the Academic Works of the University of Washington Classics Faculty reflected in Modern Book Arts was an exhibition I co-curated at the University of Washington. This is the catalog of that exhibition.
The exhibition, and the catalog as well, explores how themes from antiquity, such as social status, memory, motherhood and beauty, coincide with contemporary culture and art in the media of book arts. Artworks by dozens of artists in the media of book arts were linked with academic volumes written by 10 classics professors from the U.W. This catalog contains photographs of each artwork and each academic book in the exhibit as well as essays that bridge the underlying themes that connect the classics scholarship to the modern day motifs of the artists’ books.
The catalog was published on Blurb.
View the website: http://www.thewingsofartemis.com/
Just One Look – Catalog
In 2016, I co-curated Just One Look: An Exhibition of Contemporary Book Arts Exploring the Theme of Women and Vision at the University of Washington. The exhibition was presented in conjunction with the 7th Women’s Classical Caucus and sponsored by the University of Washington’s Classics Department.
This is the exhibition catalog. It includes photos and descriptions of each of the 32 commissioned artists’ books, all inspired by a specific text in which a gaze — either active or passive — had the power to change the narrative of the story. The majority of the texts were submitted by University of Washington faculty from various departments in the Humanities and some were stories from oral or folk tradition.
I created the artist’s book Daedalion for the Just One Look exhibition at the University of Washington sponsored by the University of Washington’s Classics Department.
The story of Daedalion is most well known from Ovid’s Metamorphoses.
This rendition of the story shows the main characters in redwork embroidery, surrounded by the entire Latin text of the story, which I embroidered in red with in a gold metallic thread grid. The inner and outer frames are made from silk ribbon painted with gold acrylic paint and outlined with Japanese gold thread and couched with DMC gold metallic thread.
Underneath the embroidered piece, I tell the same story in a more contemporary fashion. I hand-made silk feathers, each with part of the Daedalion story in English on the back side, which I attached to an arrow. The pink shape on the arrow represents the protagonist’s tongue, which plays a significant part in the story.