May 28, 2019 Head of the Book Arts Program Goes the Distance with Artist Book for Spike 150
On May 10, 2019, the 150th anniversary of the Golden Spike, the wedding of the Transcontinental Railroad, will be celebrated widely. As part of Spike 150, exhibitions and events are happening throughout Utah, and one such exhibition is Transcontinental: People, Place, Impact, which highlights the work of more than 30 Utah artists.
Part of this exhibition is Train Tracts, a collaborative effort led by Amie Tullius and Stefanie Dykes of Saltgrass Printmakers, which will be on display through June 14, weekdays 8:00 am-5:00 pm at the Rio Gallery 300 S Rio Grande Street SLC, UT 84101..
In November 2018, Amie Tullius invited Marnie Powers-Torrey, Head of the Marriott Library’s Book Arts Program and Managing Director of Red Butte Press, to contribute to the production and dissemination of the traveling literary journal, Train Tracts.
Powers-Torrey was paired with writer Rachel Marston, Assistant Professor of English at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University in Minnesota, who offered a challenging text for interpretation and visual translation. The final edition of thirteen was due to the post office by January 31, 2019 so that the Tracts, twelve editions of collaborative artists books by printmakers/book artists & creative writers, could be shipped to Art Mules (people invited to assist with distribution). The Art Mules then delivered the tracts to train stations and sent them on their individual journeys. Train traveling readers were invited to add verbal and/or visual responses to the tract. Each tract contained return postage and the request to return it in time for an exhibition at the Rio Gallery in Salt Lake City, Utah in March 2019.
The Distance We’ve Traveled, one of these train tracts, is a frank, complex, and moving account of the writer’s experience with breast cancer that brims with visual language. The book is a series of sixteen, 4.25” x 4.25” panels to be stitched together by readers during the journey, into a stiff-leaf boustrophedon, which is a book form that can be read as a codex or opened to a flat sheet to present a full image. The text, divided by the author into twelve sections, was divided across thirteen panels to parallel the pre-existing structure of the manuscript. The text requires the reader to stitch together panels in order to map the progression of the journey. Pre-sewn copies are available by request, and the title is sold through Abecedarian Gallery and Vamp & Tramp Booksellers.
The text and textural elements were printed letterpress from polymer plates. The sixteen panels are packed in a cotton pouch made of cloth suggesting a hospital gown. The snapped breast pocket accommodates tools for the reader to use in completion of the project, including: needles and thread, colored pencils and a sharpener, a small hand-carved stamp, stamp pads, two sheets of custom-made stickers, a custom-made plastic drawing template, and a small, saddle-stitched journal. The pouch readily holds the 16 panels before and after binding.
This production was funded in part by a grant from the College Book Arts Association Project .