Clifton Meador & Daniel Mellis

Clifton Meador is an artist whose work explores writing, photography, printmaking, and design to make narrative works that explore culture, history, and place. Meador’s artists’ books have been exhibited widely and are held by many major collections, including the Getty Museum, Tate Library, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Yale Art of the Book collection. His work has been supported by grants from the Rubin Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Soros Open Society Foundation, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. He was twice awarded a NYFA fellowship, was a Fulbright Scholar to the Republic of Georgia, and was the winner of the 2013 Minnesota Center for Book Art Prize. He was director of Nexus Press from 1985 to 1988, taught at SUNY New Paltz from 1994 to 2005, and was director of the MFA in Book and Paper at Columbia College Chicago from 2005 to 2014. He is now professor and chair of the Department of Art at Appalachian State University. More about Clifton: http://www.cliftonmeador.com/.

Daniel Mellis makes artist’s books on such topics as the poetry of philosophy, the phenomenology of space, and the city and the built environment. Experimental letterpress and offset printing underpins much of his work. His work has been shown internationally, including at the Gagosian Gallery in New York, and is in many collections nationwide. He received his MFA from Columbia College Chicago and also has degrees in mathematics from the University of Chicago and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. More about Daniel: http://danielmellis.com/.

Artist Statement

Estonia has a rich intellectual tradition, and the city of Tartu is the historical center of higher education in Estonia. The location of the Trükimuuseum in Tartu echoes the foundation of the first printing press in Estonia in Tartu in 1632 and creates exciting possibilities to bring history into the present.

We propose to spend a month in residence at the Museum, and to conduct our work in three phases:

1. Research into the history of typographic form particular to Estonia, by investigation into libraries, archives, and personal collections. We will look for examples of vernacular visual language from the many different periods of Estonia’s history, as well as learning about the intellectual history of Estonian publishing.
2. Creating a series of printed works using the resources of the Printing Museum that reflect the discoveries of that research, either by collaborating with local writers, creating purely visual typographic compositions, or some other, as yet unknown, solution.
3. Presenting the results of our work in a public forum in Tartu, either as a small exhibition or as a workshop/lecture.

Our backgrounds include considerable experience as both letterpress and offset printers, typographers, type designers, and book makers. Clifton’s creative work has explored the history of Alabama, Russia, the Republic of Georgia, and Central Asia, as well as the history of of printing and writing in Tibet and Ethiopia. Daniel is currently working on a typographical translation of Tango with Cows, a key work of Russian Futurism; he is meticulously recreating the visual character and materiality of the original: reconstructing Roman equivalents of Cyrillic letterforms and remaking the wallpaper the original was printed on.

This residency would give us access to a new world of typographic form, result in some new, interesting work, and also allow us to offer something in return to the community of Tartu.

Previous Works

 

Clifton Meador

 

How Books Work
By Julie Chen and Clifton Meador
Berkeley, California / Chicago: Julie Chen and Clifton Meador, 2011.

4 x 6″; 16 pages. Offset lithography using non-process colors. Interleave structure. Laid in letterfold paper wrapper with slip-in closure. Written, designed, and produced by Chen and Meador at Flying Fish Press in Berkeley, California and the Center for Book and Paper at Columbia College in Chicago.

In an age of electronic media and virtual simulacra “What is a book?” is a common question. This is the question that Chen and Meador, two veteran practitioners near the top of any serious list of contemporary book artists, address in “How Books Work.”

This elegantly simple book marries structure and content in the best tradition of artists’ books. It begins: “What is a book? A book is an experience.” And ends: “A book starts with an idea. And ends with a reader.”

clifton-dzochen-L

Dzogchen Village Home
By Clifton Meador
Chicago, Illinois: Clifton Meador, 2012. Edition of 200.

6 x 9″; 48 pages plus four panel double-sided pull out page at back. Stitch bound. Offset printed with a letterpress printed dust jacket.

Cliff Meador: “This is one of three books that is based on work I did in Ganze Autonomous Prefecture. I was there as part of an interdisciplinary research team, documenting traditional Tibetan book culture, and much of the information we collected has never been published. I spent part of this summer printing these books that explore ideas of iteration and repetition that are connected to the practice of traditional Tibetan book production.”

Dzogchen Village Home: “Dzogchen is a Tibetan Buddhist practice intended to bring enlightenment by returning to the primordial condition of the mind: an all-encompassing timeless awareness, an openness to everything, all situations, all people, undefended, ready to experience. The practice of dzogchen is supposed to be everyday life itself.”

“Dzogchen is also a monastery, in a glacial valley, in Ganze Autonomous Prefecture, part of the great Nyingma tradition, and the seat of the Second Dzogchen Rinpoche Gyurme Tekchok Tenzin who is supposed to have instructed the King of Derge to build the Parkhang.”

After resettlement

After resettlement
By Clifton Meador
Chicago: Clifton Meador, 2013. Edition of 20.

5 3/8 x 7 7/8″; 30 pages. Digital printing and letterpress. French folded pages. Bound in a soft cloth cover.

Clifton Meador: “Newfoundland is an island with dozens of isolated fishing communities along the coasts: it was the home of the great North Atlantic cod fishery for hundreds of years, and these fishing villages were the bases for catching and drying the cod. The rugged topography of the island makes road building a difficult enterprise, and many of these communities are only accessible by water. These places – called Outports – used to be isolated for the three or four months of deepest winter, cut off from supplies, medical care, or even communications.

“During the late 1950s, the government of Newfoundland realized that it was too expensive to supply all of these villages with nurses, schools, telecommunications, and utilities. The government undertook a project of resettlement of the most isolated communities, offering inhabitants a lump sum of money as an inducement. The Government’s rules have shifted over time, but the basic principle has been that some super-majority vote of a community was needed to indicate their desire to resettle their community before anyone received settlement money.

“Hundreds of small villages and Outports have been resettled in the past 50 years: along the rocky coasts of Newfoundland there stand abandoned villages, with little left to mark the people who lived there. In collaboration with some art faculty at Memorial University in Newfoundland, I have been visiting the south coast of Newfoundland, and was able to document the site of one village, Rencontre West, which was resettled in the 1970s.”


Daniel Mellis

Tangowithcows

Tango With Cows
In collaboration with Eugene Ostashevsky, I am working on a visual translation of Tango with Cows, a key document of Russian Fu­turism, modernist typography, visual poetry, and artists’ books. Printed on brightly colored pentago­nal wallpaper in Moscow in 1914, the book contains visual poetry by Vasily Kamensky set in a riotous variety of type­faces. The book is particularly known for its six ‘ferro-concrete poems,’ which entirely dispense with the linear order of text and instead allow the reader to encounter the page spatially and associatively.
We translating the poetry into English, while simultaneously preserving the typography and materiality of the original. Roman typefaces have been created or found to exactly match every one of the fifty-nine Cyrillic fonts used in the book. Additionally, the wallpaper will be recreated using silkscreen on handmade Japanese paper, and the book will be printed letterpress as was the original. A facsimile and commentary volume will accompany the translation.
The project website can be found here.
Some preliminary translations were featured in the Art Institute of Chicago’sThe Artist and the Poet exhibit and can be viewed along with the original here.
This project has been generously supported by grants from the PEN/Heim Translation Fund, the College Book Art Association, the Community Arts Assistance Program of the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, and the Interdisciplinary Arts Department of Columbia College Chicago.

Thoughts on Language

1/2/3/4/ Thoughts on Language
1/2/3/4/ Thoughts on Language, 2010, performs Ludwig Wittgenstein’s investigations into the instability in the production of meaning in language using experimental offset printing.
In conventional printing, successive printing plates are matched with successive piles of paper, which are then collated to form multiple identical copies of the same book. To create the book I intervened in this process: I used only one pile of paper and created variation instead by the manner in which I fed paper through the press. Every page of the book has different combinations, both chance and deliberate, of forty-two fragments from four quotes from Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations printed in process colors. The writing of the book was thus completed simultaneously with its printing and every one of the ten copies in the edition is unique. The book consists of four sections, each focusing on one quote and each beginning with a fragment containing the word ‘Language’ and ending with the completed quote.
In lieu of boards, the book is housed in a clamshell box, mounted on each is a section of a plate used to print the book and containing one fragment.

ArsCombinatoria

Ars Combinatoria
Ars Combinatoria is an exploration of the graphic possibilities of a single piece of wood type—a thirty pica Clarendon R—and a restricted set of operations—positive and negative auto-pressure printing with only one inked impression. This technique enables the top of the wood type to interact with the bottom and itself. With æsthetic and technical constraints there are eighteen prints, twelve of which are displayed here. The suite of prints comes in an elegant box with a small booklet—printed in three color offset lithography—explaining the process.

Comments are closed.