Sunday, September 28, 2014

At the NY Art Book Fair

On Friday we went to the NY Art Book Fair at PS 1 in Long Island City, Queens. I’ve asked you to write two paragraphs of about 8-12 sentences each and I thought I’d take the challenge myself and tell you about a person that I talked with.

At the Brooklyn table I met Marshall Weber, an experimental printmaker. I was drawn to a giant book high up on a shelf that was wide open, displaying large sheets of handmade marbleized paper. He said to let him know if there was anything he could show me. I pointed to the book and asked if I could see it, and he happily took it down and laid it out on the table. He explained that the artist, who goes by the cryptic name Sto Len, used a Japanese marbleizing technique called suminagashi. I don’t know how marbleizing from various countries differs, but the basic technique involves floating drops of liquid oil-based paint or dye on water, running a comb or brush over the surface to create a pattern, and then laying paper down on top of that to pick up the paint. Marshall explained that the artist used a kiddie pool in his studio to make large-scale marbleized papers.

The large, thick pages of the book were covered edge to edge in swirling colors. Each page had a different color scheme: some were pastel and others more saturated. The cover of the book was equally compelling. It was bound in black cloth that had been splattered with bleach, creating a kind of exploded supernova across the front. There was no text. Marshall did tell me the title of the book, but I’ve forgotten it. I asked if that was the only copy but he said there were more as he pointed to a stack behind him, and there even was a smaller version that looked nearly identical.

After looking though that book, I noticed another enormous handmade book on the table, which Marshal said he had made himself. He made space on the table and then flipped through the pages for me. They were very delicate, soft white, translucent pages with prints made from the rubbings of plaques found in New York City: one of the Chrysler Building and the other of the Statue of Liberty. They were printed multiple times with the textures varying in each. He then went on to pull out and describe another handmade book that he made while in Beijing a few years back. The right page of the book was a rubbing made in red wax of a man-hole cover or other raised or engraved city feature. I didn’t completely understand the process, but Marshall said that he applied ink over the rubbing, then closed the book and either jumped on it or put heavy furniture on it so that opposite page made a kind of print. The result was a mirror image, but without the red of the original rubbing.

Out of all the tables I stopped at and people I spoke with, Marshall was by far the friendliest and most eager to talk about the process of making the books. I’m glad I had a chance to talk with him and I hope to run into him again one day.

Now it's your turn! I'd like you to type and print it. It's easier for me to give you feedback that way!

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