Faces & Places
Faces & Places is a group exhibition of artists’ books from the Cynthia Sears Artists’ Books Collection. Inspired in part by Colette Fu’s artists’ books honoring Chinese ethnic minority groups, this exhibition offers a lens on varied personal, social, and political experiences as interpreted by the featured artists.
As might be expected from titles that seek to capture a moment or place in time, much of the featured work is photo-based, including that by Colette Fu, Fred Hagstrom, Clifton Meador, Clarissa Sligh, Red Trillium Press, and many more. Other titles show their faces and places through linoleum and wood block prints, pressure printing, letterpress, screen-prints, and painting.
Colette Fu has sought to capture China’s ethnic minorities through everyday moments, as in Kaifuna (2008-2021), festivals such as Wings of Silver (2022), and generationally passed on traditions like papermaking as in Chuan Dong, 19 Generations of Papermaking in a Cave. Not only does Fu use photographs taken on site, but she often incorporates paper and textile elements from China or other relevant sources. Her pop-up constructions bring depth and life to these faces and places.
Some titles capture the zeitgeist of an era. For example, Tia Blassingame offers two views through related titles: I Am (2018), and You Are (2019). These works capture the challenges of growing up in a racist society and building self-worth.
In I Am, Blassingame combines self-portraits from childhood through adulthood with dehumanizing statements leveled at black victims. This is juxtaposed by You Are, where she uses words of loving acceptance, seldom showered on women and girls of African descent. Blassingame’s soft portraits are powerful against the backdrop of the Black Lives Matter movement.
El Muro/The Wall, published by Red Trillium Press, offers a glimpse of Havana, Cuba’s LGBTQ population in 2005 through Abel Sierra’s photographs and essays. Fred Hagstrom created When I Arrived in Baghdad using photos and text from news photographer Stan Honda. Hagstrom says of Honda’s contribution, “…Together they do the best of journalism: a human perspective on a complicated moment in history.”
For Are We Dead Yet?, Australian artist Stephen DuPont photographed the devastating Australian black summer bushfires of 2019-2020. Besides the portraits of people against the smoke and charred remains, the landscape becomes the face in this documentation of the ravages of climate change. Jihae Kwon documents the wild and abandoned faces of chickens and cars in Hawaii, giving us an insider’s experience of place, beyond the people.
While not all of these artists began their books with thoughts of themselves as ethnographers or anthropologists, these titles capture people, neighborhoods, and culturally changing events. We open them with care, faces and places to be remembered.
Catherine Alice Michaelis
Ken Campbell and David King
Keg de Souza
Sandra C. Fernandez
Eduardo Hernández Santos (Red Trillium Press)
Kandy Lopez-Merino and Tennille Davis Shuster
Alison Leialoha Milham
John Risseeuw and Margaret Prentice
Sandra C. Fernandez, Childhood Memories III: growing up in Ecuador, 19955.75″ x 5″ x 5″, accordion book 2.5″ x 3.25″ with 10 panels, 4.5″ cyanotype circular insert Crocheted raffia basket, cyanotypes, bark paper, veneer, accordion book unique, Cynthia Sears Artists’ Books Collection