Parula Press ~ Massachusetts
(Lisa Olson)

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Lisa Olson: "I love history and like to work with projects based on history or a somewhat related melancholy sense of lost time. I also work with themes of human fragility and the ways in which we understand the world. The mystery and magic of childhood perceptions and an interest in systems of organization (science, mathematics) also tend to surface repeatedly."
Grammar Lessons and Studies in First Aid
By Lisa Olson
[Belmont, Massachusetts]: Parula Press, 2014. Edition of 20.

Two volumes: 5.625 x 8.75"; 32 pages and 36 pages. Photocopied text and imagery. Cloth bound. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Lisa Olson: "I often return to human frailty and the difficulties of navigating the complexities and inequalities of our world as thematic elements. This pair of books sits solidly in that body of work. They are made to reference small text books, using pedagogical devices such as multiple choice questions to tell their story.

"As a letterpress printer, I am always aware of the inherent preciousness of the technique. Here I chose to work with Xerox to enhance the unassuming nature of these small volumes."


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Child Keeper
By Lisa Olson
[Belmont, Massachusetts]: Parula Press, 2011. Edition of 4 plus one unbound set.

5.25 x 7 x 1.5"; ten 4-page folios. Letterpress printed on Rives BFK. Other materials and objects tipped in. Housed in a paper portfolio box with a string and grommeted disc closure and with the title tipped in.

Lisa Olson: "Child Keeper is part of a group of mixed media artwork, created to be shown in installation format and collectively titled The Children's Home. The project is based on my interest in the psychology of a child placed in an orphanage in the early 20th century – trying to understand what I imagine to be complex feelings of separation, loss, institutionalization, and conformity. This piece references records kept by institutions, puts focus on the children as individuals with varied circumstances.

"This book was created to address several aspects of the situation. It is written as a collection of records, documenting 30 individual (but fictional) children who might have populated an institution at that time. It serves to establish each child as an individual with a unique set of circumstances but also to depersonalize and to enumerate quantity. Like much of my work, what is not known sits beside what is known and gaps in information and the fragmentary and incomplete nature of the little included objects contribute to this subtheme."

Botany Lessons: L O C I
By Lisa Olson
Belmont, Massachusetts: Parula Press, 2010. Edition of 8.

7 x 10.75 x 1.25"; 24 pages. Letterpress and inkjet on Xuan paper and Rives Lightweight. Images sandwiched between semi-transparent paper. Housed in a cloth covered clamshell box.

Lisa Olson: "This book is certainly rather abstract – it's from a series of books that I am making referencing scientific or academic texts or reference books. One of the major themes of this project is the idea that we build our understandings of the world on incomplete bits of information and knowledge.

"So, the content is not meant to be direct, but rather to be more suggestive and poetic than instructional. The loci points are my inventions (visual/compositional choices) and not direct references to any true information. Their reference to constellations or children’s dot to dot books fit in to the larger theme – incomplete information used to try to define a larger whole.

"The imagery is primarily based on images found in old botany texts, some drawn or modified by me when I couldn’t find what I wanted. Some of the images, including the clip-like instruments, come from Darwin’s book titled Power of Movements in Plants."


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The Girl Wanders
By Lisa Olson
Belmont, Massachusetts: Parula Press, 2010. Edition of 11.

7.5 x 11 x .75"; 20 pages. Letterpress text and screen printed images on Rives BFK. Accordion fold from front pastedown.

“Sometimes she opens doors, sometimes she leaves them closed. On summer mornings, she walks to the schoolyard—pebbles on the sidewalk, a notebook in her hand. She feels the sun on her ankles. She always steps over the cracks.”

Lisa Olson: "This book was inspired the mysteries and magic of childhood perceptions. The girl wanders through five repeating stanzas of text with details evolving into odder and slightly more menacing circumstances as she navigates sidewalks, schoolyards, sunshine, and shadows with curiosity and caution."

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Little Drop of Shadow
By Lisa Olson
Belmont, Massachusetts: 2007. Edition of 10.

5.5 x 5.5"; 9 pages. In 5.75 x 5.75" paper case. Letterpress text and linocut on Somerset paper. Accordion structure glued into wrapped cover.

Text: "Dear reader, remember: a small bird casts a small shadow, a feather looks solid but it is not, trace of snail, swoop of swallow, all shimmers - now lovely, now gone. Dear reader, remember: soft secrets hide in every hour."

Lisa Olson: "In this ode to transience and absence, I hoped to create a small book that became a fleeting moment itself when read. I use the pacing inherent to a book's form and the relative emptiness of the pages to slow the reader down and create a thick fluidity to the short text."
$75 (Last two copies)

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By Lisa Olson
Belmont, Massachusetts: 2006. Edition of 24.

6.75 x 10.25 "; 26 pages. Letterpress on Rives Lightweight and inkjet images on Rives Lightweight wrapped in Xuan paper. Casebound in Xuan and Hahnemühle Bugra papers.

Lisa Olson: "This book contains three texts joined by themes of human frailty. I wanted to make a book that acknowledged the profound difficulties of navigating life in a damaged condition, whether the damage be physical, mental, or social. I wanted to make a book that was soft and sad, but one that also offered support, hope and perhaps devotion."

Elizabeth Long, review JAB 23: “Life declares its theme with its cover, half a drawing of a flower buried under some semi-translucent paper: you do not see the whole, you do not see clearly. A book about shattered beings. It explores different perspectives of their experience. The text alternates voices, beginning first with a poetic description from the point of view of the mentally ill patient, then switching tone to capture the patient as seen by the clinical eye of the doctor’s observations, and finally ending with a compassionate observation of this human struggle. Throughout, the images are buried beneath accordion folds of soft, not-quite-transparent paper and leave the reader feeling as though something important has been missed, that knowledge is incomplete. The text too fades almost away in the middle section, turning a pale gray as the patients become only their external actions ‘110206/Mrs. Caroline/(at times very rational)/She is difficult to rouse / She answers ‘Yes.’ ‘No.’

“The creamy whiteness of the pages and the elegant sparsity of the text and images argue for a tenderness to be extended to these broken souls, and the book leaves the reader with the ambiguity of who it is that is seeing only in part, the patient searching for clarity or we who cannot see inside their struggles.”
$240 (Last two copies)

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Parula Press Out of Print Title:  
The Book of Witness and Words
By Lisa Olson
[Belmont, Massachusetts]: Parula Press, 2012. Edition of 8.

11 x 15"; 9 loose leaves. Letterpress and intaglio on Rives BFK and mixed papers. Laid In wrappers. Colophon on back interior of wrapper. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Lisa Olson: "The Book of Witness and Words is my contribution to the Al-Mutanabbi Coalition's book arts project, created in response to a bomb attack in the heart of Baghdad's intellectual and bookselling community.

"For content, my focus is on my own confusion about how I, a person privileged to be naïve of these horrors, can try to understand and honestly respond. For text, I contrast details about the bombing with my own decidedly trivial journal entries from that same day. I also offer a list of words with long cross-cultural histories and weave them into a questioning musing on human bonds, impotence and strength, and defiant resiliency."


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Page last update: 09.22.15


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