Sunday, July 26, 2015

Catch Your Breath

The baroqueness of my new artist's book, Catholics, is at times overwhelming. It uses letterpress-printed typography to build images; references Joan Crawford, Tallulah Bankhead, and Carl Jung in its theatrical illustrations; and draws inspiration from sixth-century souvenirs in its collaged eulogiae.

In order to allow the reader some relief from the denser sections of prose and imagery, I also included interludes. There are two types: chthonic and eremitic.

The chthonic invokes sacred traditions associated with the underworld.

And the eremitic conjures the Christian custom of engaging with the desert as a site of spiritual seeking.

The interludes' backgrounds are letterpress printed from photopolymer plate halftones—the chthonic from a scan of crumpled flax paper made by Cave, the eremitic from stone-textured spray paint. Their text is printed from varyingly letterspaced Centaur metal type.

Catholics is influenced by twentieth-century cinema, both in theme and content. I wanted the interludes to act like the long-abandoned practice of offering an intermission in the middle of a movie, a chance to reflect and review what you've seen so far. Click here to learn more about the book.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

... a Eucharistic dust jacket that wends along a desert wind ...

That’s me, I must have thought somewhere just beyond myself, a thought like a Eucharistic dust that wends along a desert wind. An infiltrator destined for hell. The singed flesh felt distinct.
—from Catholics

I just finished printing a dust jacket for my new artist's book, Catholics. It was letterpress printed from photopolymer plates, except for the spine, which was printed from metal type (Goudy Text and Spartan Heavy). The front cover also features a die-cut Eucharistic wafer/solar cross, a preview of a motif that runs throughout the book.

A copy of Catholics was recently acquired by the University of Iowa Libraries Special Collections. To learn more about the book, which is a limited-edition memoir told through text and image, visit my website

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

2 New Collections

I'm excited to have my work recently acquired by two fantastic collections!

A copy of Catholics is now at the Newberry Library. To learn more about the artist's book, which is a memoir that incorporates typography, illustration, and collage, click here.

And the Blanton Museum of Art at UT, Austin has obtained the original drawing of Shelley Long as Phyllis Nefler, created as a tribute to costume designer Theadora Van Runkle. To read more about Van Runkle and the other drawings I made in memory of her, click here.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Free Generative Writing Workshop this Sunday

I'm offering a prompt at June's Free Generative Writing Workshop this Sunday, June 21 at Public Space One in Iowa City. Hosted by Iowa City Poetry and Prompt Press, the monthly workshop brings together adult writers of all levels to create a supportive environment in which participants can generate new writing and meet others interested in the same. I've been doing some research about ways of combining text and image, contrasting 'solitary geniuses' like Lynda Barry and William Blake with historical, commercially-motivated, collaborative modes of creating and publishing stories—modes including medieval scriptoria and twentieth-century American mass-market comics publishers. The prompt I'm working on will include instructions to an imaginary illustrator! The workshop starts at 5:30 pm.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

More Illustrations from Catholics

Here are three illustrated page spreads from my new limited-edition artist's book, Catholics. They all take place at important moments in the book's narrative arc:

A legendary quip by Tallulah Bankhead showcases some cutting anti-clerical mockery in the book's illustrated epigraph.

A crudely transformative quote from Carl Jung precedes the book’s climax. 

And Joan Crawford's purported dying words serve as an illustrated epigraph.

To learn more about Catholics, click HERE.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Catholics Goes Live

I just finished creating a web page for my new artist's book, Catholics:

It includes a complete description of the project, as well a GIF of the book's transmutative sequence featuring a shifting frame I composed from metal type.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Catholic Souvenirs

Central to my new artist's book, Catholics, are its eulogiae, three portfolios that rely heavily on collage.

According to Colleen McDannell in Material Christianity, sixth-century pilgrims to sacred sites in Europe carried away tiny clay or glass ampullae that contained traces of dirt, oil, or water found at the visited shrine. Diagrammatic images of the location were also rendered on the exteriors of these souvenirs, called eulogiae. Each eulogia in Catholics attempts to conjure remembered space in a similar way: handwritten text and collaged images function as both architecture and performance.

In ‘Boys Town,’ the first eulogia, I attempt to create a papist Pleasure Island by contrasting stories of childhood sugar highs with events that reflect Church misogyny and violence.

In ‘Confessional,’  I use closet imagery and fragments of muscle mags as I mimic the rhetoric of Augustine by addressing my confessions to Joan Crawford.

And in ‘Dream Church,’ where hand-drawn illustrations start to invade, I try to spiritually rebuild by reflecting on my good fortune in meeting such a loving, inspiring, and ongoing collaborator.

To learn more about Catholics, read about its illustrated saints and images created from typographic ornaments!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Caxton Club Grant Presentation

Photo by Susan Hanes
Members of the Caxton Club visited the UI Center for the Book last month. I presented to the group, along with fellow Caxton Club grant recipient Candida Pagan, and I talked about the project they helped fund—an artist's book called Catholics. I'm currently binding the edition of 25 and working on designing a letterpress-printed dust jacket. Here's a draft of the jacket's blurb:
Catholics is an artist’s book, a limited-edition memoir that makes use of comics, collage, and letterpress printed typography to explore the psychic cathedral built by its author’s Catholic traditionalist upbringing. Beginning with an anti-clerical quip by Tallulah Bankhead, the book takes on a range of subjects including Catholic-Masonic tensions, the fervency of converts, the legacy of the Legion of Decency, and the spiritual significance of revelatory shrouds. In Catholics, the sacred and profane, the humorous and tragic, the zine and literary fine-press all end up as strange bedfellows in desperate need of confession.
Check back for more pics of Catholics!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Artist's Books at Prairie Lights!

Come see my multitalented students display their artist's books from our Creative Writing for Book Arts class! Subtitled 'Writing for Visual & Material Genres', the class has explored comics, zines, typography, text + image, and hybrid genres before culminating in their final project—a book whose form is integral to its content. The event is this Saturday, May 9 from 5–7 pm at Prairie Lights Bookstore.