29 Press ~ Massachusetts
(Melanie Mowinski)

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By Melanie Mowinski
Cheshire, Massachusetts: Melanie Mowinski, 2013. Edition of 15.

3.25 x 5"; 12 panels of varying width sizes. Letterpress printed on painted papers. Woven accordion with pivoting panels. Numbered.

Melanie Mowinski: "Conspirare: Latin, verb. Meaning: to breathe together. Sometimes all a book needs is the right title. The images tell the story, and the title directs the experience. So how it went when making the book Conspirare. The book combines a simple accordion fold with pivoting panels and woven panels. Two birds form the pivoting panels. The words inhale and exhale are revealed when you play with the woven panels. The title evolved out of time spent deeply with friends, so near to each other that it was like we were breathing together. It plays on the modern word conspire – and while that word leans to the negative, it comes from a place of deep connection and togetherness, the essence of what this little book embodies."

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Naked: Walking in the Woods
By Melanie Mowinski
Cheshire, Massachusetts: Melanie Mowinski, 2013. Edition of 13.

4.75" volvelle. Letterpress printed. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Melanie Mowinski: "I am part of an incredible art collective. Three Americans. Three Australians. Every two months one of us comes up with a 'book structure' and a theme ….

"I chose the volvelle structure – with the theme document. The moveable wheels and circle format fascinates me. …

"Our theme? Document. And what did I document? I documented walking in the woods at night. We hike a number of trails in our backyard ….

"… It’s amazing how naked I feel when I walk in the woods at night. Since I don’t hear very well when I do hear something, it tends to freak me out. The first time we hiked like this, at the top of the steep section an owl called out. We played call and response for a few go-arounds. But the human quality to the call churned up every nerve in my being. Intellectually I knew it was an owl, physically my stomach tied itself up and my heart rate escalated. Had I been alone I would have started to run at full-speed. My volvelle documents this walk. Different strings of words like fear creeping outside light become sandwiched between the whooooooo calls of the owl. 29 words make up the text – with a third of those words calling out whooooo. The tree pattern adorns the back of the volvelle."

$ 35

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Why Owl, Why? What do you want me to learn?
By Melanie Mowinski
Cheshire, Massachusetts: Melanie Mowinski, 2013. Edition of 10.

7 x 5" tunnel book structure. Four-color reduction linoleum print. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Melanie Mowinski: "Twice, within a span of ten days, in the exact same spot, a barn owl or a barred owl nearly flew into the windscreen of my car on my drive home from work. Both times I swear I could see its eyes, it was that close. I keep replaying the moments in my mind, along with folklore about owls, trying to find the meaning in this encounter.

"Some cultures fear the owl. It is silent. It deceives its prey. When its razor sharp beak and talons strike, its victim knows.

"Other cultures see the owl as a symbol of wisdom. It can see what others cannot not. It knows truth, knows when others are deceived, and is not easily deceived itself.

"Silence. Wisdom. Deception. What, owl, do you want me to learn from this meeting of ours? Am I missing something in my silent observation of my life? What message do you bring me?

"I have no answer. But I continue to listen to all you and the earth offers me."

$ 45

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My Little Soul
By Melanie Mowinski
Cheshire, Massachusetts: Melanie Mowinski, 2010. Edition of 10.

1.75 x 5" closed, opens to 6 x 9.75"; single sheet folded to 8 pages. Pastel watercolor pens. In handmade slipcase. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Melanie Mowinski: "A couple of summers ago, I went to Jiminy Peak’s Aerial Adventure Park to try the High Ropes Course. It’s divided by level, levels that parallel the categorizing of skiing. Green = Easy. Black = Difficult.

"It was fun, scary, challenging, and required complete focus on the task, whether crossing a horizontal rope ladder 40 feet in the air, or flying down a zip line. The first part of the adventure requires trusting the harness, knowing and believing that if you couldn’t quite do something and you let go, the harness would protect you from crashing to the ground.

"All fine and good, but I had a really hard time believing this. This became super apparent when I reached a 15 foot rope ladder that I had to climb. The bottom of the ladder was about four feet off the platform, and the platform was at least 20 feet off the ground. And the ladder? It wasn’t anchored in place and the rungs weren’t easily spaced. The ladder moved around and the reach from rung to rung was a herculean effort, especially since this was one of the later challenges. I tried, got frustrated. Rested on the platform, then tried again. I repeated this loop a number of times, growing more and more frustrated and angry. Angry at my fear, angry at my inability to trust, angry at being weak. So I pouted. And pouted. And then totally spent, gave up and took the zip line down off the platform to the solid ground. Had I been able to trust the harness, I could have leaned into it and made it up the ladder, but I couldn’t. I wanted to do it on my own. (Read the many life analogies and metaphors in this example.)

"The subtle pouting remained in ways that I did not even realize until a few months later when looking at some of the artwork created shortly after that. For example, the semester after that I created this little one page book and the accompanying envelope. The text reads: My little soul climbed high and away where the pauses hummed in silence speak your truth. Do you see only that which concerns you? Decide for yourself. Become transparent."

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Running. Foraging. Wild Leeks
By Melanie Mowinski
Cheshire, Massachusetts: Melanie Mowinski. Edition of 12.

4 x 5.5"; 10 pages. Double accordion structure. Black paper boards with title tipped on front cover. In black cardstock slipcase. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Melanie Mowinski: "I enrolled in a course with Sharona Muir: Crafting Memory, Dreaming History: Creative Approaches to Writing from Experience. In this workshop, we used a range of exercises to find fresh poetic renderings of our experience of memory, both personal and historical.

"I kept going to memories of running. Running in the Caribbean as a Peace Corps Volunteer, running in Paris, in San Francisco, in my hometown in Ohio and in my own backyard in the Berkshires. One particular poem needed to evolve into book form. This poem is about a personal sadness that happened last year that stays with me and sometimes paralyzes me, sometimes for a fraction of a second, and often when I’m running."

The book is set up in a question and statement series. The statements are not necessarily answers to the questions but rather a dialogue of the runner's progress along the trail. Questions are printed on the background accordion structure. Answers are printed on the half page accordion of velum paper. For example, one background is a double page spread with a question: "What makes you stand still lock-eyed with the knot of a tree?" In the foreground: accordion "The streams spill over, flowing over the easy stepping-stones. I leap thoughtlessly, unconsciously hopeful. ..."

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East Fork: Into Denali
By Melanie Mowinski
Cheshire, Massachusetts: Melanie Mowinski, 2008. Edition of 29.

5.5. x 6.75", 20 unnumbered pages. Flag book structure. Paper collages Pressure printed on Mohawk Superfine paper. Typeface: Didot. Printed with an Epson 2880 Inkjet printer. Laid in paper portfolio with hardcovers.

Denali National Park & Preserve (Alaska) covers more than 6 million acres and features North America's highest mountain, 20,320-foot tall Mount McKinley. The Park was designated an international biosphere reserve in 1976.

East Fork: Into Denali originated from drawings, walks, and writings while Mowinski was an artist-in-residence in Denali National Park and Preserve in June 2008. The illustrations are shades of green with minimal text.

       ... A kettlepond appears in the valley below
                  we pick a path towards it, crossing a braided stream, ...


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In the Woods
By Melanie Mowinski
Cheshire, Massachusetts: Melanie Mowinski, 2008. Edition of 40.

4 x 6"; 10 pages. Printed on blue paper from French Paper Company. Relief printed images. Bound in a variation of a storage book structure. Housed in black paper with envelope fold. Slot and slip closure.

Melanie Mowinski: "When I was in graduate school in Philadelphia, my work became completely centered on trees and nature. I created tree rubbings, books about trees, paintings focused on rocks, and other things. I read Thoreau and Emerson and dreamed about the woods.

"… only when I returned to living in the woods did I realize that much of what that work was about was NOT having access to the woods and nature. As I was realizing this, I was reading Emerson’s Nature essay. I played around with the text and simplified it down to 30 words, few enough to memorize. I could carry the sentiment with me wherever I went. When I am in the woods I often repeat this as my mantra.

"I decided to create a small little book of this mantra, paired down from the essay. The words are printed on a blue French paper from a polymer plate of my handwriting. The pages, including the covers, are relief printed images – the same image repeated over and over and transformed by the different lines of text. The original one-of-a-kind mock-up was from stone lithograph prints made in grad school. The structure is derived from Hedi Kyle’s Storage Book Structure: folded pages mounted on a very thin tyvek accordion with a non-adhesive folded cover."

In the woods
we return to reason and faith.
Nothing can befall me in life
which nature cannot repair.
Standing on bare ground
all mean egotism vanishes.
I become transparent.


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Postcards (Trees)
By Melanie Mowinski
Cheshire, Massachusetts: 29 Press, 2006. Edition of 36.

8.5 x 6.5 x 2" cloth and paper covered clamshell box containing two books: Field Guide to Tree Rubbings (4.5 x 6", 32 unnumbered pages; pamphlet bound) and Postcards (Trees) (8 x 5.5 x 1", 31 unnumbered pages with rubbings from 15 different types of trees laid in specially designed pockets). Ink-jet plus hand-lettering.

Field Guide Colophon: "This Field Guide to Tree Rubbings documents collaborations with trees by the artist, during 2005-2006. Each record corresponds to an original portrait in this collection of cards. The portraits were made with natural pigment encaustic crayons or charcoal from the Windgrove, Tasmania Peace Fire*."

(*Windgrove is a 100 acre coastal property in Tasmania that borders Roaring Beach and the Great Southern Ocean. The Peace Fire is an eternal flame created on April 6, 2002 to honor the path of peace.)

Melanie Mowinski: "I created a card in every place I spent 72+ hours from my birthday 2005 to my birthday 2006. (With the exception of Tasmania – I enlisted the help of Peter Adams to send cards that were created from paper I tied to eucalypt trees in Tasmania in August 2005.) The edition numbered 36 to equal the years I celebrated in 2005. Recipients received the same numbered card throughout the year."

Tree Rubbings/Drawings

Royal Palm, St. Kitts, West Indies
Flowering Dogwood, Mooresville, NC
Sweet Gum, Hudson, OH
Sweet Crab Apple, Williamstown, MA
Peppermint Eucalyptus, Tasmania, Australia
Elm, Boston, MA
Coastal Redwood, Muir Woods, CA
Horse Chestnut, Paris, France
Sycamore, Philadelphia, PA
American Beech, Atlanta, GA
Eastern Hemlock, Ricketts Glen, PA
Sour Cherry, Pownal, VT
Tulip Poplar, Hudson, Oh


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Melanie Handwriting
By Melanie Mowinski
Cheshire, Massachusetts: Melanie Mowinski, 2005. Edition of 29.

11 x 14.5"; 16 unnumbered pages. Printed on an Epson Stylus Pro 4000. Bound in illustrated wraps with paper title on front cover.

Colophon: "Melanie Handwriting evolved out of the free writing of the artist. Since she was a small child, lettering, calligraphy and writing captivated her. She practiced her cursive and printing, inventing different styles to fit a particular time of life.

"This font highlights her current style of writing utilized in her travel journals and field guides. It was created by extracting samples from previously written texts that she scanned and traced in her computer before finalizing it into Melanie Handwriting."


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Page last update: 09.10.14


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