Creating Catalogs, Artists Creating

Entry begun Wednesday, November 12, 6:50 am

Creating catalogs is somewhat like chasing whales.  One “long voyage ended, only begins a second, and a second ended, only begins a third” (as Ishmael realizes in the “Wheelbarrow” chapter).  As Emma Rose and I are in the final flurry of getting the files of the Moby-Dick catalog ready to take next Monday to a local printer who we hope can reduce our production costs, she has been integrating all the ingredients we have assembled for the Dickinson catalog into an InDesign file from which we will print a sample of this catalog after everything is in its place.  The basic elements of this catalog will be the same.  After our introductory essays, each student artist will be represented by a two-page spread in which Emily Wiethorn’s photo of the artwork the student created will be accompanied by a short bio, a classroom photo, and the artist statement.  Emma Rose is using a different color scheme as the framework for the Dickinson catalog, as you can see in her first draft of this spread for the quilt by Stacey Barnes:

First draft of Stacey Barnes spread for Emily Dickinson catalog

First draft of Stacey Barnes’s two-page spread for Emily Dickinson catalog

As with the Moby catalog, several of the Dickinson artists will require a four-page rather than a two-page spread.  As soon as we drop off the submission file for the Moby catalog to the local printer on Monday, we will edit all of the Dickinson spreads and send digital copies of them to the student artists for approval before we do the final edit for the submission copy of this one.  If we like the sample that comes back from our Moby submission next week, we will go with the local printer for both catalogs.  We have been able to get this far in the development of these catalogs because of excellent support from the University.  In late October, Emma Rose received a Zalla Award from the Honors Program that will allow us to produce enough copies of the Dickinson catalog to be able to give one to each student artist.  In early November, we received a grant from the Office of Research, Graduate Studies, and Regional Stewardship that will allow us to do the same with the Moby-Dick catalog.

First draft of two-page spread for Danielle Wallace's Tea Set II

First draft of two pages depicting Danielle Wallace’s Moby-Dick Tea Set II

One example from the Moby catalog illustrates the intricacies of the editing process.  The Moby-Dick Tea Set that Danielle Wallace created in my Spring 2009 class in Moby-Dick and the Arts, followed by a second Tea Set in 2011, required a four-page spread.  Emma Rose and I loved the photograph Emily Wiethorn took of the second complete set (lower left in image above).   We had decided to show each individual cup, too, and we made that part of our original work order for Emily.  When Emma Rose was beginning to lay out the individual cups, we decided to label each cup according to the character or scene it depicted.  As we began to do this, we discovered that two of the cups had not been photographed.  We also realized that some of the others would require a new photo if we were to feature the most characteristic image of each.  We rehired Emily to this additional work, resulting in the two-page spread I have posted immediately above.

I loved the way the new layout looked until I began the process of identifying and labeling the individual cups.  This was made easier by the fact that I had commissioned the 2011 set and have it in my dining room.  I now appreciated for the first time that Danielle had inscribed the subject of each cup under the bottom of each piece.  When I began to match each cup against its counterpart in Emma Rose’s spread, I found that we had three “unnecessary duplicates” (to use a phrase from Moby-Dick that has become popular among literary critics).  Two of the images in the current spread are from “The Pod” cup and three are from “The Chase.”  Today when Emma Rose and I meet, we will sort them out and choose one image to represent each.  We will also decide how to best arrange the fourteen cups, the one young whale, and the one Moby Dick pot now that we know the subject of each.  So, the above spread in the published catalog will have three fewer cup photographs and a new sequence of its parts.  These are the kind of details we have to attend to before we take the submission copy to the local printer on Monday.

Danielle's inscriptios naming cups for The Chase, Pip, Squid, and Queequeg

Danielle’s inscriptions on the bottom of the cups depicting The Chase, Pip, Squid, and Queequeg

While Emma Rose and I have been busy with our two catalogs, some of our Emily Dickinson artists and musicians have been busy creating new work for the Valentine’s Fest in February.  The artwork of the students who will be featured in the exhibition and the catalog has been completed.  But Claire Illouz in Chérence, France, and Kathleen Piercefield in Dry Ridge, Kentucky, are both creating new work for the lecture-demonstration that will initiate our Marathon weekend on February 12.  Illouz and Piercefield are both accomplished Moby-Dick artists who are creating Dickinsonian art for the first time.  Piercefield had exhibited her first portrait print of Dickinson at the Fort Thomas branch of the Campbell County Public Library this summer (as illustrated under “Kick-Off Events” earlier in this blog).  She has now recently completed a renovation of the studio in her Dry Ridge home and has begun work on at least two new Dickinson prints she will have ready to show in February.  It is exciting to think of her filling her own Dry Ridge studio with ingredients similar to those in the photo from Claire’s Chérence studio I posted at the end of my previous blog entry.

Photo of Kathleen Piercefield's Dry Ridge studio on the day I posted this entry

Photo of Kathleen Piercefield’s Dry Ridge studio on the day I posted this entry

On Monday night the Board of the Friends of Steely Library decided to make the Illouz-Piercefield lecture-demonstration on February 12 part of our Lecture Series for the 2014-15 season.  This means that John Campbell, a fellow member of the Board who had taken my Dickinson class during the 2014 Spring Semester, will be creating some art of his own in advance of the Illouz visit.  He has been a great fan of Claire’s art ever since she came to NKU in 2011 to lecture on the Whiteness book she created in response to Moby-Dick (an artist book of which our Steely Library Archive possesses one of twenty-five copies in the world).  John had already offered to create a limited-edition broadside for each event in this year’s Literary Series.  He is an experienced printmaker and knows how to mobilize the needed resources.  His first broadside was for Richard Hague, who gave a fine reading from his book of new and selected poems, During the Recent Extinctions, on November 23.  In addition to typesetting “Walking into the Library,” one of the poems in Hague’s new collection, John added his own drawings to the design.  It will be very exciting to see what he comes up with for Claire’s visit.

hague broadsiee outside best

John Campbell’s broadside for Richard Hague’s November 23 poetry reading

The musicians preparing for our February 13 Dickinson song recital are also busy creating.  Kimberly Gelbwasser has finalized the program.  In addition to the twelve Dickinson songs that Aaron Copland composed in 1951 and the five that Jake Heggie composed for the world premiere in August of this year, Kimberly will be giving the world premiere of three new Dickinson songs by Douglas Pew.  Of the six Dickinson poems Doug selected for this project, he has chosen three for Kimberly’s recital in February.  The set will be called My river runs to thee after one of the poems he is setting (J 162).  The other new songs will be On This Wondrous Sea (J 4) and Wild nights! (J 249).  In addition to the songs Kimberly will be singing, her recital will include instrumental settings for three Dickinson poems for clarinet and marimba by NKU composer Kurt Sander.  This set of three will be another world premiere and will include settings of “Water, is taught by thirst” (J 135), “’Hope’ is the thing with feathers” (J 254), and a poem still to be selected.

On Friday I will be meeting with Kimberly to discuss the five Dickinson poems that Heggie set in Newer Every Day, the cycle she will be singing.  We are meeting on Friday because Heggie himself will be arriving next week for a ten-day workshop at the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music on Great Scott!, his opera in progress.  He has generously agreed to coach Kimberly on his new songs next Tuesday if his schedule allows.  If I am allowed to be a fly on the wall, I will hear a composer I love coach a singer who is a dear new friend for what will probably be the second performance of these five songs anywhere in the world.  You don’t get much closer to artists creating than that!

Coda on the morning of Thursday, November 13:

Emma Rose has just sent me the changes we made yesterday afternoon in the two-page spread in which we reproduce Danielle Wallace’s Tea Set II.   Now each of the fourteen cups is labeled and is represented by one image only.  We have arranged the cups in the order in which their subjects appear in the novel.  Readers will now be able to experience Danielle’s response to the book narratively and spatially at the same time.

Second draft of two-page spread depicting Moby-Dick Tea Set II

Second draft of two-page spread depicting Moby-Dick Tea Set II


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