In 1957 the Columbia river was dammed at Celilo Falls, inundating ten thousand years of native culture and a thriving river ecosystem. Submerged depicts this event with poignant text and hand-painted imagery by the artist.
The physical structure of the book captures both the flow and stasis of Celilo Falls: the opening movement of the book mirrors cascading water and the static pages reference a dam wall. In combination, these elements illustrate the complex social and ecological impact dams have on individuals, communities and the environment.
Submerged is housed in a hand-made clamshell box which includes a time-line documenting the building of The Dalles Dam and flooding of Celilo Village.
I just finished an edition of a new artist’s book that I like a lot. It’s been a long while since I’ve worked in multiples. I usually create one-of a-kind pieces, but for Submerged, I decided to push myself and make more than one copy. Three to be exact – a very small, hand-painted, variable edition. There is something so beautiful and satisfying in creating multiples of something. A clean stack of cut boards, three folded spines, identical clamshell boxes and fifty-four hand-painted pages.
I love making artist’s books! I enjoy searching for all the different materials I get to incorporate into one project. Mouldmade paper from Germany, special-order cloth from New York and colorful ribbons. I went to three different stores, including a Ribbonry to find exactly the right shade of green ribbon. Figuring out how I’m going to combine all these different materials is totally engaging. And that’s why I love book arts – I lose myself in the details.
My art group is reading Lewis Hyde’s The Gift, which has been described as a “manifesto of sorts for anyone who makes art”. Hyde talks about the importance of inner gifts becoming visible, shared and accepted, but not as a commodity. The gift must pass through many hands – be on a continuing journey, in order to retain it’s power to touch and move people. I sent this little painting out into the world recently, as an anonymous gift for someone I’ve never met, who is going through a hard time. In his book, Hyde retells many folk stories all with a common theme – giving, often spontaneously to those in need, which keeps the cycle of giving in forward motion. Although I don’t know how my gift was received, I do know that I have already been rewarded with the gift of art, many times over since I gave away that painting – I connected with some like-minded artists in a recent workshop, saw a truly inspiring show of paintings and sold a painting. It doesn’t hurt to make a little money with your art!