We're halfway through the semester at AAU, and graduating students are gearing up for portfolio and presentation efforts. We know there's more than one way to showcase your work, and we believe the strongest designs reflect content and concept. As such, AAU Lens always has our eyes on alternative formats and all of the inspiring possibilities out there.
This week, we are looking more closely at the work of Meridian Press, a full-service letterpress studio and book bindery in Reno, Nevada. It was started in 2011 by Katherine Case, a poet and printmaker. Katherine learned bookbinding and letterpress printing at Mills College while pursuing her MFA there between 1998 and 2000. She also worked at the limited-edition book maker Arion Press in San Francisco, managed the studio at the San Francisco Center for the Book, and taught book arts for nearly a decade at the Nevada Museum of Art, the San Francisco Center for the Book, Sierra Nevada College, and AAU.
Katherine's work at Meridian Press includes custom letterpress work, fine art prints, letterpress greeting cards, handmade books, and an array of classes, and for Katherine, some of the most rewarding parts of her work are the custom books and structures that she produces to client specifications. Many of these custom jobs have been books and broadsides ordered by poets, such as Chana Bloch, Jennifer K. Sweeney, Devorah Major, Kay Ryan, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti's custom book was a long, previously unpublished poem. It was letterpress printed entirely from metal type cast at M&H Type in the Presidio of San Francisco and bound in an edition of 250 using high end all-cotton papers and end sheets that were Japanese “Grain Indigo.” This paper is hand dyed and dried carefully on planks of wood so that the paper absorbs the wood grain. The paper's deep blue wood grain pattern ironically evokes water, beautifully appropriate for this long poem, “At Sea,” where Ferlinghetti, one of America's great poets who is now in his 90's, contemplates his own mortality (photos are attached of At Sea).
Other custom binding jobs have included individual Coptic-bound books, hardcover portfolios and cloth-covered boxes. Katherine says, "It's always inspirational to see another artist's project and to find a way to convert it into a portfolio, box, or book."
Another example of this is Elizabeth Kenneday-Corather's photo series about the dry reservoirs of Nevada. When her photos were to be included in an exhibition at the Bridge Gallery in Denver, Elizabeth wanted them to be displayed as an accordion book. She printed the book and brought it to Meridian Press, where Katherine folded it and created a cloth bound portfolio casing for it that included muted gray colors to match Elizabeth's color palette and a hanging device at the top that could double as the holder for a wrap around tie when the book wasn't being displayed. It was a great collaboration!
So tell us - what inspiring portfolios and designs have you seen recently? What are you working on?