Rows and rows. Small wooden desks, each home to a heavy, metal typewriter centered and locked in place. Woman after woman. They sit up, backs straight in their hard, metal chairs. Eyes down. Hands stationary with manicured nails of red; others chipped or broken. Yet, their fingers fly from black key to black key.
They are masters of the Olivetti.
Drab, green and gray machines with worn keys. Cold metal type clacking under the driven intent of these women. They have saved factories, banks, government agencies from failure; prevented or shortened wars. They have saved others' lives and those of their families with words typed relentlessly. These women have labored doggedly for less than they were worth, then, been discarded for the next newest, cheapest commodity.
Dedicated to people whether, working in Hospitals & Nursing Homes or those Caretakers at home, who have sustained others ill and failing during the pandemic of 2020. Especially dedicated to Toni Ryan of Mississippi.
The the past year during the COVID19 pandemic, I have come to appreciate zines. They are a form of art that is easily accessible to viewers during this year when money is scarce, and the need to write and create visual art is essential.
Signing up to participate in my first meeting of the Zine Club at the University of Maryland’s BookLabinvigorated my artistic curiosity when it was waning, frankly. Yesterday I played around, not really having any big goal in mind other than to make something tangible. (See also, Barnard College Zine Library and their listing of other Zine libraries.)
So, I present my first publication (Artist’s proof) of Droppings (get it? a bunny?) using previous writing and artwork, and layout with MS Publisher. I am not sure if I am following the “rules” for zine-making or not, but I imagine tonight’s meeting will provide me with great feedback and a huge learning curve.
Dark Water: Art, Disaster, and Redemption In Florence
Due to my Zia Clara and sister having been in Florence during the historic 1966 flood of the Arno River this title so appealed to me. Due to my bad habit, some might say, of not doing research on a title beforehand as usual I dove into it with my usual ignorance on a subject. Wow! I was in for it!
Clark begins with the history of the Arno River itself and its effects on Firenze through the centuries. Obviously, this covers an incredible amount of Italian history. This includes its very early Roman and Etruscan era, the importance of Dante and Michelangelo to the city’s evolution, and moving on to the British invasion by writers and artists in the 1800 (See, A Room With A View by E. M. Forster) As I read, I kept wondering WHEN he would actually get to the 1996 flood, since I was already about half way through the book.
When he does it is so detailed that you must either love Florence, itself or love art history and restoration. Fortunately, I am somewhat besotted with Firenze and love to learn art history because this non-fiction account meanders all over the place. Not that I didn’t enjoy it, but I did have to stop and do some research. I am not sure why the editors did not include maps, images of the art before and after, photographs of the flood itself. The omission of visuals can easily be a deterrent to the reader who is not completely versed in art history.
So, I would suggest to have this along side you:
historic and 20th century maps of Italy, during the Etruscan and Roman periods
an art history book specifically with Cimabue‘s Crocifisso before and after the flood
With the completion of an artwork, there remain bits and pieces. Always. Treeflake, a recent artist’s book created this month, left behind its castoffs. Scraps of handmade or hand printed papers, ends or slices of archival canvas, and bookbinding threads dyed in deep, dense color; discarded imagery from preliminary studies in this color or that one lay in a lonely state on the drafting table.
I cannot bear to throw out any of this. All this before me that was thoughtfully and sometimes, lovingly assembled into a unique piece or artist’s book. Freedom calls. Without expectation or pressure or judgement a small work will evolve. Mistakes are made – too much glue or an edge of Japanese paper accidentally torn. Nothing deters from creating something for what there is before me. Accepting my limitations and faults, I continue. I cover tears; scrape off adhesive, rebuilding again.
I remake the canvas before me until it comes into its own. Then, I move on.