Sara Langworthy ~ Iowa

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Artist statement: "I want to call attention to beauty in unremarkable places: the grey of wet concrete seen through worn out holes in a leaf on the sidewalk, light reflected on the wall in midafternoon. A highly restrained palette gives emphasis to differences between closely related but separate things. The artist book format provides an inherent two-sidedness. For every page, each front is also a back. The only way to view the entire piece is to relinquish a part of it. With print, I am most interested in edges; where two color blocks overlap or nearly touch, the areas where ink saturates the paper, making you aware of both the printed surfaces and the paper acting a as mediating substrate between the pages. The ease and immediacy of printing on a Vandercook press creates a circumstance where experimentation exists concurrently with the editioning practice. My process is more akin to collaging with printed elements at the press than to strategic letterpress design and production. Spontaneity exists alongside a thought out page and careful presswork. I work back and forth between written words and pictorial elements; images are inspired by a text, and texts grow from images."

New Patterns in Old Style
By Sara Langworthy
Oxford, Iowa: Sara Langworthy, 2013. Edition of 24.

9.75 x 8.5"; 18 leaves. Printed letterpress with photopolymer. Papers: Kitakata, Kozo Kaiga, University of Iowa Center for the Book handmade text sheets in a variety of fibers including hemp, flax and cotton, and overbeaten flax/cotton combination, an offcut left over from an earlier book "Solid Phases". Bound into a modified limp paper binding with UICB Papercase Natural as the cover paper. Housed in a cloth-covered clamshell box. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Sara Langworthy: "The project began as three smaller projects: an investigation of two opposing definitions of the word 'cleave'; an exploration of the coded language and repeated words contained in tatting instructions and manuals; and a play with the negative spaces of flattened decayed leaves found on sidewalks in November. The book combines images and text printed from photopolymer plates with hand-brushed sumi ink painting.

"The primary motivation for this book was to investigate the state of being two things at once, and the natural tensions present when opposing forces are required to inhabit the same spaces. All text is drawn from the definition of 'cleave,' and words taken from tatting instructions. The text in the book was constructed from a series of random/chance exercises using these words. The first signature sets the scene of the word 'cleave' fighting itself: a passionate joining with a violent separation. The second signature examines the results of the repeated joining and separating. The first signature is printed primarily in pale greys and greens; the second signature is equally monochromatic, but uses a pink/orange/yellow palette.

"A formal constraint of this project was to use only papers I had in my collection, and to recycle or revisit previous half-begun prints and book ideas which had a link to the themes of duality and opposites. Two of the folios (the two outer folios of each signature) are prints begun during an Artist’s Residency and Minnesota Center for Book Arts. Their initial print layers are wood type printed in opaque white and transparent white inks, layered with hand-brushed sumi ink washes. The total number of these sheets determined the edition size of the project. The leaf prints are new to this project. A number of other elements are visitors from earlier works, including especially the otherworldly watertowers and adjacent scaffolding."

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Solid Phases
By Sara Langworthy
University of Iowa: Sara Langworthy, 2012. Edition of 33.

9.25 x 12"; 28 leaves. Handset text from a very worn case of Helvetica. Printed on a Vandercook SP-20. Images printed from photopolymer plates and linoleum blocks. Papers: Sakamoto, Shin-Tobi, an overbeaten flax sheet made by Bridget O’Malley of Cave Paper, and assorted text-weight sheets made at the UICB Papermaking Facility. Contained in a modified full-cloth case binding.

Sara Langworthy: "Solid Phases is inspired by drawings of the molecular structure of ice, and the language used to describe the brittle bond of water in its solid phase. This book explores the fragile nature of connection, tendency towards stasis despite change, and the impact of stress upon a solid. The text is culled from the book Ice Physics (Peter V. Hobbs, 1974) in particular the first section of the book entitled Solid Phases of the Water Substance.

"Images are heavily inked and printed in multiple layers on translucent paper, saturating the sheets and blurring the distinction between front and back. Images and sentences are constructed across multiple pages; the viewer reads down through each page. The resulting images are fully experienced only in book form."

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Morpho Terrestre
Book design by Sara Langworthy
2006. Edition of 50..

9.25 x 4"; 10 leaves. Text is Janson. Printed on Sakamoto paper from photopolymer plates. Hand-painted sumi ink. Japanese multisection binding with gatefold pages. Laid in custom cloth-covered clamshell box. Numbered. Signed by the poet and artist.

Seven poems by Emily Wilson, with four companion images by Sara Langworthy.

Emily Wilson, poet: "The poems in Morpho Terrestre come from a manuscript presided over by diverse genies, particularly, Robert Hooke, whose 17th century treatise, Micrographia, contained some of the earliest and most influential studies undertaken with the new technology of the microscope. Among other influences are painters—Winslow Homer, J.M.W. Turner, Neil Welliver—and poets—Marianne Moore, Robert Frost. I guess the common thread has to do with 'seeing' and then pressuring that activity through another medium, like paint or language, or something else. I like to think of the poems as the result of some imaginative transit or trade taking place, back and forth, between a moment of physical observation and remembered residues of it, its associative promptings and grabbings after other strands, the delight in the 'things' of the words themselves. But the sound is what sets the whole thing going."

Sara Langworthy: "The prints are multi-layered, employing both relief printing and hand-painted sumi ink washes. The printed elements were made from a series of photopolymer plates, which were from plants, stems, and sticks. All printing was done using a Vandercook proof press; the printing process itself has more in common with drawing or collage than with strategic letterpress printing. The end goal was an edition of 50 books, so I began with enough paper to print 100 of each image. The editioning process was done concurrently with the print experiments. The images are hidden behind gatefolds, giving the viewer the opportunity to experience the text itself, without my own visual interpretation getting in the way."

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Page last update: 04.04.17


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