Spirit Fingers: After Wittig

edition of 250
6””h x 4″w” x 1/2″d
Spirit Fingers: After Wittig intercepts a passage from Monique Wittig’s iconically visceral 1973 book The Lesbian Body (original title, Le Corps Lesbien) on the foam silhouette of a hand.  Dissonance between the intimate address and invitation of the text, and the hand’s design referencing the public display of affection that is fandom offers a parallel to the internal dissonances at play in various physical exchanges.  Sporting events foreground both raw physical aggression and the deft articulation of movement, both communal celebration and the possibility for threat in an impassioned crowd, while the pleasures of erotic encounters often traffic in the promise of a shattering of the self: “You are obliged to hold m/e on the ground because of the shaking of m/y body.”

available at Printed Matter & Fuse Works

After Anne Carson, After Sappho

foil-stamped acrylic pick mounted in laser-cut mount
signed and numbered in an edition of 100
2″ x 2″
This pick – or plectrum, which the lyric poet Sappho is credited with inventing – is foil-stamped with a fragment of Anne Carson’s translation of Sappho’s Fragment 31, also known as the Poem of Jealousy, sourced from If Not Winter: Fragments of Sappho (Vintage, 2003).  Each pick is set into a laser-cut mount that still bears the tendriled smoke patterns of its production, pointing back to the burning energy that fueled the poem.

available at Printed Matter & Fuse Works
Ever Your Friend

1-color risograph print interiors (in flat gold & burgundy) on 70#t Domtar Cougar Offset Natural, hot foil cover on 80#c French Paper Co. Construction Paver Red, 60#t French Paper Co. Parchtone Aged end sheets; Perfect Bound; 56 pagesedition of 275 7″ x 7″

George Wietor has made no shortage of beautiful things on his Risograph duplicators at Issue Press but this extra smart artist book by Anna Campbell is one of our absolute favorites. A terrifically ethical and poetic approach to working with historical materials.
Half Letter Press

A collection of images abstracted from the photo collection of the Lesbian Herstory Archives in Brooklyn, NY. Compiled during a month in residence at the Archive, these images have been modified, isolating only hands, bare arms, and any objects they may hold. This selective editing prompts the viewer to fill in the gaps not only of the physical image itself but also in the narratives of everyday lesbian life they depict.  The essay below is reprinted from Ever Your Friend:


Fingers curled around a cigarette, a hand on a shoulder, the tension in the space between bodies: the images in Ever Your Friend are fragments drawn from the files of the Lesbian Herstory Archives’ photo collection.  Few of the women represented in the collection are well known; many are anonymous.  What remains enigmatic about any of them exceeds what those photographs reveal. That their hands, bare arms, and the objects they hold have been isolated from the full context of the archival images parallels the ellipsis of our understanding.

Images in the Archives’ photo collection include ephemera from theatres and nightclubs, clippings from newspapers, portraits, publicity photos, photocopies, postcards, erotica, and the occasional tintype, but the photo collection overwhelmingly consists of vernacular photography documenting parties, protests and everyday lesbian life.  These images have largely not been seen outside of the Archives, as a process for securing the permissions for publication was not in place at the time the photo collection was established.  My tight focus on small areas of exposure in these photographs allows for the possibility of their reproduction, but also foregrounds the tone of a gesture, the intimate contact between women, and the significance of the lesbian hand as an instrument of sexual pleasure.

The intimacy of paging through this book is meant to extend the experience of researching in the photographic collection; its diasporic distribution functions as an inversion of the aggregation of material by the Archives.  As a bound collection, the book’s spreads create a series of formal associations and visual puns that cross geographic, generational, racial and class distinctions.

The title of this volume is borrowed from the back of a portrait photograph that was inscribed “Ever Your Friend, Ida.”  The subtlety of that line and all that it might imply aligns with the desiring charge of this project:  to re-image profound embodiments, affiliations, and passions through the sparest of gestures.

available at Issue PressPrinted Matter & Fuse Works

Slow Club

matchbook and cut glass bowls
edition of 2,000
2″ x 1.5″
A fifties era cut glass bowl presented on a pedestal contains a collection of matchbooks; each is light gray and has the logo, title and address of The Slow Club printed on it in maroon. In the interior of the matchbook, printed behind the matches, is the following text:

But she always liked dancing, and would go downtown to a place called “The Slow Club” until it closed. Some of the ladies were older than Peg, but that did not bother her; in fact, she had a few long-term friendships with the ladies.

This text is drawn from the recently written memoirs of my grandmother, and describes the reason her sister never married, despite having several male suitors. The Slow Club, a ballroom dance club, would have offered the cover of a hetero-normative establishment, but during World War II when my great aunt visited it, the number of men in attendance would have been minimal. Discovering this passage was alarming in that it offered insight into a life I had never imagined for my great aunt. Whether her reality actually involved romantic love for other women is unknowable, but the trace of that possibility is present in the lives of so many people that are now otherwise lost to us, and this series of matchbooks makes the intangible aspect of those histories legible. When visitors take a matchbook from the cut glass bowl, and later light those matches, the flame they generate parallels and potentially memorializes the bright and ephemeral flash of the connections that might have originated at a place such as The Slow Club.

The Seeding Trilogy: Sowing Dissent

three editions of 250 coasters
4″ x 4″
To live apart from a major metropolitan area is to exist in a cultural ecology that is more susceptible to anti‐queer conservatism. However, because of its smaller scale, that kind of ecology can sometimes be more immediately impacted by strong queer voices. My recent project, The Seeding Trilogy, was an attempt to reframe the hubris in West Michigan surrounding Artprize, “the world’s largest art prize,” a competition launched and funded by members of the ultra‐conservative DeVos family. Seeding was motivated by the sense of dis‐ease I felt in the potential for a family known to support anti‐gay causes to whitewash its political agenda via an art competition. The work, itself entered into Artprize, was sited in a gay bar, and employed vernacular media to help seed a conversation among the people most adversely affected by that family. The difficulty I had in finding a bar willing to host my project, and the tone of subsequent communication with superiors at my university, both reflected a fear of what the project might trigger.
The Seeding Trilogy consisted of three elements: a video projection, a scrolling led sign, and a series of coasters. The most resonant aspect of this work proved to be the coasters; working with bartenders and servers to distribute a custom series of coasters to patrons achieved the desired effect of initiating conversations on current political climates locally and nationally. Favors describes Richard DeVos’s influence in blocking domestic partner benefits at Grand Valley State University where I teach, Chipping In details the amount of money given by the DeVos family to support anti‐gay marriage amendments in three separate states, and Focus on the Family outlines the political impact and aspirations of the extended DeVos family. The tangibility of the coaster series became particularly effective in initiating dialog, and many patrons were sufficiently appreciative of the coasters that the supply was quickly depleted. The continued use of those coasters in people’s homes helps the project continue to resonate.
West Michigan is among the many locations in the queer diaspora where the conservatism of the cultural climate makes creative work that engages queerness not only more imperative than in larger metropolitan centers, but also potentially more disruptive. Engaging the long‐standing queer strategy of mixing pleasure with politics, The Seeding Trilogy used the utter ubiquity of Artprize to activate a bar that is more generally considered a site for generating pleasure than political debate. In instances where the project met resistance, opportunities emerged for people to consciously prioritize the relevance of queer voices over conservative assimilation.