Posts Tagged ‘artists books’

Questions of Enough

Posted on: September 27th, 2018 by jmbroekman No Comments
Enough in process
Enough partially open
Enough - back view

What is Enough?

I have been working on some new work around issues of ENOUGH. When is enough, enough? What is enough? Will we ever understand there is more than enough? How do you define enough? These questions came up as I considered the path of migrants throughout history. It’s something I’ve been thinking about recently in light of an upcoming show. More on that in a minute.

In my mind many, if not most, of the ills we face as a species boil down to a question of enough. Today’s rise of the far right nationalist parties seems to grow out of the fear of not having enough; that what little you might have will be taken away by those who have even less. Migrants are almost always driven by not having enough – safety, food, clean water, shelter, economic opportunities etc. I can’t help but think that issues around enough are at the root of just about every problem we face in this increasingly polarized world.

When is enough, enough?

I have been thinking about this while creating a few artists’ books about it; specifically for IXNOS, an exhibition in response to the passage of migrants through the Greek Island of Lesvos. This exhibition is part of a statewide initiative: Making Migration Visible, which includes a major exhibition at the ICA at MECA exploring ideas about migration, mobility and displacement. It’s a topic that hits me at my core; and one I think I’ve been exploring in indirect ways for a long time.

These patterns of having or not having enough get passed down through the generations. For example, having survived the Holocaust, my mother understood what not having enough to eat felt like, and was thus, always afraid that we wouldn’t have enough food in the house. When, in high school, I started to do the grocery shopping, I would always shake my head as she put a can of tuna on the list when I could see we clearly still had two cans on the shelf. Now I get it. On a visceral level. In fact, I, too, am afraid of running out of food, and often have more than one can of tomatoes in the cupboard.

Good enough?

There is another manifestation of what enough means: when you add good as a prefix. Good enough. What’s good enough? Is good enough, enough? It’s an endless battle in my mind when it comes to my work. Not to mention my overall being. Making this book about enough was a great experience. It allowed me to put these thoughts out into the world in a compelling way; It was a way for me to continue grappling with them. And, the best part: I learned some great new tricks for making a flag book, which was a lot of plain old fun.

Ixnos:Traces

The exhibition runs from October 6 through the end of the year at the Glickman Library on the University of Southern Maine campus.

Dyeing Paper with Plant Material

Posted on: July 14th, 2015 by jmbroekman 3 Comments

Nothing like long sunny summer days to inspire some brand new studio adventures.

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The latest studio adventure involves collecting all kinds of raw plant material, stuffing it into folded packets of paper, submerging it into boiling hot salt-sea-water and letting it cook for a while. The result is dyed paper, and generally, not anything that you might expect. It has all the elements of surprise of making a print, multiplied about a thousand times.

Photos above show from left to right – drying flowers to use as raw material; packets that have come out of the pot, but not yet been unwrapped; and the first unwrapping. Below from left to right are: a packet with a copper plate as part of the wrapping process (the copper definitely changes the outcome); and two views of a variety of the first batch.

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The above photos are from my first forays into this world. Below are pictures of paper drying on the line yesterday, when I couldn’t resist trying again. I made a stab at being a little more methodical this time, keeping better track of what I did. This is a good example of where art and science converge – both start with an inquiry, and are all about exploration and discovery. None-the-less, it was the artist within who won out when it came to monitoring and recording notes. One of the few things that I did note, however, is that the dying daylilies did not leave an orange or yellow residue, but rather produced a pretty deep bluish color. Go figure!

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The earth suddenly seems to have awakened from a long dark sleep now, and everywhere I look, I see bright color. You would think with all those different greens – the light yellow green of the early goldenrod, the soft grey green of the vetch weeds, and the dark shiny green of the bittersweet – that green would’ve been the predominant color on the paper. No such luck. It turns out, green is one of the hardest colors to come by. I did an entire book of herbs – rosemary, sage, lemon balm, thyme, oh, and a giant broccoli plant leaf. Not one piece of green in that book!

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Summer Intensive at Wolfe Editions

Posted on: June 24th, 2011 by jmbroekman 4 Comments
summerintensive

Letterpress, bookbinding, and woodcuts, oh my!

I just spent an incredible, wonderful, and yes, intense week at David Wolfe’s studio learning all kinds of new skills with David Wolfe and Crystal Cawley. They are both great teachers, as well as fabulous artists; and my fellow students were a complete delight with whom to share the week. I spent most of the week working on a book project: using traditional lead type, hand setting a poem that my friend Janet wrote for me many, many years ago. Once all the type was set, I printed the poem, line by line on some already prepared prints of mine; and finally bound it all together in a book. What an accomplishment!

You can see little snapshots of most of the book by clicking here.

Buttonhole Binding

Posted on: May 1st, 2011 by jmbroekman 2 Comments
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A great way to start the month of May…

Yesterday I went to a workshop to learn how to make a Buttonhole book. Today, in order to make sure I didn’t forget all that I learned yesterday, I folded a series of prints that had not yet been attacked with scissors (or worse), and bound them up in a Buttonhole book. On the left is the prototype that I did yesterday (with a little letterpress red house on the cover), on the right another view of today’s adventure in the studio.

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