This summer I had the opportunity to return to Columbia College Chicago at the Center For Book & Paper Arts and work with Brad Freeman the editor and founder of Journal of Artists Books (JAB). I received a month residency to produce my artist book Cayuga Nation: Now & Then. For those of you who do not know I went to Columbia to receive a MFA in Interdisciplinary Book and Paper Arts. During my time there I had a two year print production fellowship where I worked closely with Brad Freeman and JAB. So this opportunity felt like returning home. It is my happy place. I got to operate the GTO Heidelberg offset press again which is unlike operating any other press I know. I have a different relationship and understanding for this press compared to vandercooks, screen-prints, etching presses, and any other press I have operated. (although I do love all printing presses this one is just a little different)
I worked with Brad for five days a week for the month of June. When I arrived I worked on completing my designs for my book, helped Brad around the shop, helped him clean and move his office, and assisted Buzz Spector in his residency. Buzz and I were both doing a residency at the same time and our artist books will be in JAB38 for Fall 2015. It was wonderful to chat with Buzz and learn his process of creating books. I always enjoy working with other artist because everyone approaches their work differently. I helped him scan in his pages, make some of the plates and run test for color options. I even taught Buzz how to use a GoPro!
After he left I began to process the film and make plates for my book and began printing. I had not done offset printing for two years and as confident as I was I made lots of little mistakes here and there mostly because I realized I was rushing and I needed to slow down. Brad and I had lots of good laughs. BUT once I got back into my groove it felt natural. The thing with offset is that these presses are not as available as vandercooks so I don’t get to continue to practice and build my skills. The next time I go back I will have to get back into my groove again and once I get into it I will have to leave again.
Now a little about the book I created. Cayuga Nation: Now & Then is a dos-a-dos offset printed artist book with a birch bark cover. Three weeks after I moved to the shores of Cayuga Lake, the Cayuga Nation owned gas station was barricaded with trucks, police and members of the tribe. This event inspired me to explore the long history of the Cayuga Nation and the events that lead to the recent conflict. Depending on which cover you open first you receive a different story. One side of the book tells the “Now” story (current issues) and the other side tells the “Then” story (history) of the tribe. The covers are bark because the Cayugas used it to build longhouses.
In 1779, the U.S. military destroyed the nations homes and crops forcing them off their land. Ten years ago, Cayuga Nation returned to their homeland after being displaced across the U.S. and Canada. The land claim is situated on the north end of Cayuga Lake, which is part of the Finger Lakes Region in Central New York. The nation is currently split between two factions and for two months one faction hijacked their gas station. This book tells the story from multiple perspectives. The central theme of this book consists of my photographs, newspaper articles, letters from the local councilman, historical research, and conversations with the Cayugas and Mercenaries. Moving to this area has made me aware of the continuous struggle Native Americans encounter. Through this book I hope to bring attention to their plight.