a boundary bureaucracy: Exploring the language of Cleveland, at Zygote Press
I am a visual artist working with letterpress printing, language and geography. My work often considers how experience of place can be represented. As such, residencies have become a vital part of my practice and I was honoured to be selected as 2018 summer artist-in-residence at Zygote Press.
In 2017 I began a series of text landscape prints and it was this series that I created a new iteration of whilst at Zygote. The fundamental idea with the series is to explore a location as a source for generating texts. Conversations, oral histories, signage, maps and my own automatic writing all provide the raw material, alongside photographs of shape, pattern and color. This was the first iteration made in an urban location and I found Cleveland to be a rich source of material.
My work in some ways is a collaboration with the studio itself and Zygote was an inspiring place. The first few days were a process of learning the studio, checking presses, looking through the type collection, running tests. Through this, conversations are always happening—introductions, warm welcomes, advice, stories—and all this starts to build up a picture of the place. I begin setting type almost immediately, often ‘writing’ texts straight into the composing stick, translating words in the air into metal type. The physical material of letterpress is an important facet. Once lines of type are set, I can move them around on the page; each pair of lines is a fragment but when combined/recombined with other fragments, the small moments and memories start to crystallise and a larger picture develops.
The final print, in an edition of thirty, comprises eight separate passes through the press. There are multiple colors reflecting landscape elements (such as the Veterans Memorial Bridge that I crossed each day), different text configurations, overlays of metal material and text used as image. The title itself—a boundary bureaucracy—comes from stories about Cleveland past and present, from the river’s mouth that divided settlement development to the current situation of East Cleveland being a separate jurisdiction. My hope is that the final print represents my understanding of Cleveland. For me, it’s not ‘about’ the city so much as being ‘of’ the city. A set of fragments that coalesce into a larger whole, read from both distance and in close-up.
1410 East 30th Street
Cleveland, Ohio 44114