Over the summer Melissa Meyer and I exchanged leisurely studio visits, first at my studio in DUMBO and then at hers on West 39th Street. On the second floor of an unassuming office building in the fabric district, Meyer’s space has a timeless view of a bustling Manhattan street that reminded me of paintings by Ashcan School artists like Robert Henri, John Sloan, and George Luks. She had just returned from a long residency at Yaddo, where she completed Fascination, a letterpress book project (pictured above) that featured poems by South Korean poet and activist Ko Un.
The project was conceived by French artists’ book publisher Gervais Jassaud. Jassaud invited several artists to create artwork alongside Un’s poetry, giving each artist twelve copies of the unbound letterpress book to work with as she pleased. Using watercolor and pencil, Meyer interpreted the specific content of the poems on each page, maintaining the same approach in each spread for all twelve books. But because each image is hand-painted, the spreads are finely nuanced and nest the verse in poignantly different ways.
Meyer’s version of Fascination (several of the pages are pictured here) incorporates the loose, calligraphic line that I recognized from her paintings, but she also includes a finer pencil line that seems like a skeleton or wire armature for the fluid watercolor strokes.
Counterproofing also played a part in Meyer’s process, as she pressed the wet image from one page onto the next. Meyer has had a longstanding interest in book projects, and she
graciously dug through her flatfiles to show me numerous earlier
projects. Among the impressive examples was a facsimile of her
sketchbooks that the Mezzanine Gallery of the Metropolitan Museum of Art published in 1997.
The final page of Fascination is the colophon, which includes publishing information and signatures of both the poet and artist. The book will be available at her gallery, Lennon Weinberg, as soon as the handmade linen boxes are complete.
Note: Other artists invited to participate in the project include Regina Silviera (Brazil), Kim Sooja (South Korea), and Elena Berriolo (New York). Berriolo, who altered the book with a sewing machine, will present of her version of Fascination Wednesday, October 22, at Art Projects International.
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