Sunday, January 1, 2012

Emanating Excellence: Sarah McDermott

Sarah McDermott has just finished her residency, during which she made paper and screenprinted hand drawn images for her book The Orchard. We were struck by the unusual color and visual combinations and her flawless printing. She spoke with us as she finished up her printing.

SS: How did you find us?

SM: From being involved in book arts for several years and having heard about your biennial Book Arts Fair

I loved working at Pyramid. It was great to be able to combine working in multiple studios — in book and paper media as well as in printmaking. Equally important was the positive and supportive "vibe" of the space: the particular culture that has been created of collaboration, flexibility, and trust. I also felt like there was an encouragement to experiment which really helped me make work that I am excited about and proud of. Furthermore, I like how Pyramid combines an emphasis on community arts with having some very specialized equipment and residency programs. It's an interesting mix that undoubtedly impacted my own project.

SS: Tell us about your amazing screenprinted book in progress.

SM: My project is a series of screenprints on handmade paper that will ultimately be part of a book in an edition of 20. I was working off of a prose piece by my friend and collaborator Joanna Ruocco entitled The Orchard. I chose this piece out of a larger manuscript that I have been privileged to be able to work with. The text is about a group of women, and their trip into and out of an orchard and a more mysterious force called the "eminence," with an emphasis on their interconnectedness by their breath. I became interested in telling a narrative via the movement of visualized breath and in trying to work with something as potentially intangible as "eminence." (continues below)

I will be letterpress printing the text when I go back to New York City. I have a basic mock-up of the whole book, so I know roughly what to do. But I have also purposely been keeping this project a little loose, having felt that the way I have been working — which involves extensive pre-planning to bring together all the elements of a book — was getting a little stale for me. I'll probably go back to that, but for this book I wanted to give myself the freedom to focus on the 2-D with just enough structure to allow for continuing creativity as it becomes a book object. We'll see how it turns out!

As far as marketing the book, I'll probably sell some through Vamp and Tramp (the book dealers I work with) and probably sell some on my own (through Kidney Press). I also made a set of prints that will exist just as prints that I may sell individually so people wouldn't have to buy the whole book. 

SS: And finally, whose work inspires you, or you think is pushing the boundaries of printing?

SM: Some people that work in screenprint who I look to for inspiration are Cybele Collins (I particularly like this body of work), Liz ZanisChristian DeFilippo who I think doesn't actually screenprint but whose work is very print-like, and the whole Providence, RI posse of screenprinters whose work I am not super in touch with these days but would include such luminaries as Jungil Hong, and Brian Chippendale

SS: It's been delightful to see the work progress. Send us photos when the book is bound, and best of luck!

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