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Alex Appella ~ Argentina

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Alex Appella: "Becoming a book binder was a natural side effect of being a writer often on the road. My first books were typed on construction paper and stapled into their covers, which were made from paper grocery sacks. Quite basic…but it achieved the initial purpose: a way to publish and commercialize/share my writings no matter where I was."

Click here to see Alex Appella's Tedx Talk about the journey of creating "The Janos Book" and how it led to Traveling Libraries. For sub titles, click the CC, and the gear icon will allow you to pick English.


Artists' books with family members by Alex Appella
Poetry books by Alex Appella
Short Stories by Alex Appella


Renault 12
By Alex Appella
San Antonio de Arredondo, Córdoba, Argentina: Transient Books, 2009. Open numbered edition.

5 x 8.25"; 16 unnumbered pages, with 8 full-color double spreads comprised of a reproduction of an original collage, 6 of them including a pop-up. Printed on Colorspot Nieve paper, using an Epson Ink Jet Printer. All acid-free materials. Flat back binding. Photos by Alex Appella, except for original Renault 12 publicity material and owner's manual scans. Housed in its own "glove box wallet." Bi-lingual glossary included.

Alex Appella: "A book to honor the community within the Southern Punilla Valley in Córdoba, Argentina, that I call home, a lovely fall, and this titan of econobox transportation: The Renault 12. This auto was manufactured in many countries*, and specifically in Argentina from 1971 to 1994, where it lives on today as an accessible solution from getting the family from point A to point B. (*Including Turkey, Romania, Colombia, Spain & France.)"

Each page features a different family pop-up portrait plus information about the owners and their car. The inside of the front and back covers boast original publicity material. Behind each pop up are glimpses of pages from a 1971 owner's manual.


Renault 12 book
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Where are you from?
By Alex Appella
Icho Cruz, Argentina: Transient Books, 2008. Open numbered edition.

6 x 8 x 1.5"; 16 pages. 8 full-color collages, 6 popups, various pull tabs. Pages sewn onto linen tapes. Flat back binding. Printed on an Epson Ink Jet Printer. Housed in box with exterior stickers like a traveler's trunk and a red-yellow-green lift ribbon attached to the box's interior bottom. On-going, numbered edition begun in September, 2008, in San Antonio de Arredondo, Province of Córdoba, Argentina.

Alex Appella: "As an Oregonian living in Argentina, not a day goes by that I am not asked, “Where are you from?”—in the grocery store, paying bills, getting gas. I am heartened that my accent has improved: most of the askers assume I am from Brazil. But it is an accent nonetheless, and the question is constant. It is a notable opportunity for self-reflection… [This book] explores my answers…."

Where are you from? book
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Bookworks by Alex Appella involving her family: one documenting family history and one a collaboration with a family member.

One Day · Un Día
By Alex Appella
San Antonio de Arredondo, Córdoba, Argentina: Alex Appella, 2018. Open Edition.

8 x 10"; 26 pages. Bilingual text (Spanish - English). Bound in illustrated wraps with hand sewn binding.

Barbi Couto, journalist and editor in Argentina : "'One Day · One Day' is a book about death and also about hope. The bilingual collages document/portray the raw, loving, brutal, sensitive, intense story of the last day of Alex’s grandfather’s life, which he photographed without knowing it, and the last days of her mother's life, as she succumbed to Leukemia. Trying to describe the book in its poetic and visual depth may be as difficult as trying to describe the feelings and emotions surrounding the departure-farewell of a loved one.

"The first person narrative Alex uses to tell her story is a visual, bilingual, layered voice of her own creation that she has been building book by book in recent years. Her way of combining Spanish and English simultaneously, the two languages in which she speaks and thinks every day, situates the reader in a place of uncomfortable commitment, and obligates us to face both languages, and to discover just how much we actually do understand.

"Alex documents the story with photographs from her family archive, which dialogue with each other, interweaving senses that travel from one photo to the next and that the reader completes with their own images / memories, inevitably envisioned as the pages are turned. Alex's book will make you return to those moments, with sadness, with tears of emotion, and you will feel accompanied. You will understand that the devastating impotence of not being able to do anything except be present as events unfold, somehow unites us as humanity. That time heals, that
remembering and looking back strengthens. That we are not alone."


One Day · Un Día book
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Click here for the link to a video of the book
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By Alex Appella
San Antonio de Arredondo, Córdoba, Argentina: Transient Books, 2008. Open numbered edition.

8 x 8"; 14 pages. Printed on an Epson Ink Jet Printer on Colorspot Nieve paper, 220 gram. Six full color, digitally produced collages. Flat back binding. Quarter cloth with paper covered boards, tipped on illustration on front board.

Alex Appella: "I was inspired by Laura Russell's show "Maternal Legends" [Russell is the proprietor of 23 Sandy Gallery in Portland, Oregon] to finally create something that encompasses the tradition of embroidery that comes from my grandmother's family.

"My great-grandmother Berta, from Hungarian Transylvania, taught her four daughters to embroider; just as generations of mothers before her had learned from their mothers. As I grew up, the embroideries of my great-grandmother, along with those of my grandmother and great aunts punctuated our home, grounding those of us living in the United States in the traditions and expressions of our ancestors’ homes. Here in Argentina, where two of my great-aunts settled, and where Berta herself passed away, the homes of offspring also are enlivened with this link to our identical heritage. In the newer generations, across the continents, the ability to embroider, design, sew—the ability to express oneself—has expanded and evolved just as our grandmothers’ designs and embroideries expanded and evolved in their new homes. The stitches not only hold us to our heritage, they inspire us into our futures."

Five of the six double-paged collages are dedicated in turn to the artist's great grandmother, her grandmother, and to her three great aunts. The sixth collage, the Descendant Collage, celebrates the 7 Granddaughters, the 18 Great Granddaughters, and the 13 Great Great Granddaughters of those matriarchs. A "Notes & Credits" page gives a record of each of the six collages.

Stitches book
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27 - 72
Poems by Alex Appella
Illustrations by Eve Slinker
Icho Cruz, Argentina / Enterprise, Oregon: Transient Books, 2006. Edition of 3.

9.25 x 9.25 x 4.5"; 14 pages. Accordion. Acid-free materials. Giclée prints printed on an Epson Ink Jet Printer. Text and images tipped onto pages of red, blue, green, brown, or rose bookboard pages bound with 1.6" black ribbon. Housed in a black paper-covered clamshell box. Designed and bound by Alex Appella.

Two women: aunt / niece; Oregon / Argentina; artist / writer-bookmaker.

Alex Appella: "From April 2001 to April 2002, Alex Appella and Eve Slinker maintained an artistic exchange through the mail. Alex was living in the sierras of Córdoba, Argentina. Eve Slinker was living in Wallowa County, Oregon, USA. Alex sent a poem, Eve responded with a painting, and so on over the course of a year. They did not discuss the exchange outside of the artistic responses they sent back and forth.

"The book’s title reflects the ages of the artists: Alex Appella was 27 at the time, and her aunt, Eve Slinker, was 72. The exchange itself mirrors a relationship of mutual inspiration. It is a conversation between the hope of over 7 decades, and the despair of nearly 3.

"In October of 2002 the original paintings and bound poems were shown at the Pendleton Center for the Arts in Pendleton, Oregon."

About the Artists:

Alex Appella, originally from Oregon, began binding her books on a boat in Alaska, with the idea that original literature should be accessible, both for the writer and for the reader. After traveling half-way around the world with a mini-bookbinding workshop on her back (including a typewriter), and selling her artist’s books on the streets and plazas of Latin America, Alex now creates them in her studio in Argentina, and offers them through internet. Alex’s varied collection of artist’s books can be found in public and private collections throughout the US, and beyond.

Eve Slinker: “The arts have been a part of my life from the time I was a child until now, when I am a senior citizen. It wasn’t until I missed yet another complicated run in a two-piano piece that I decided, definitively, that I would switch to the visual arts instead of music. Music travels through time and space and leaves nothing but a feeling behind. It can be glorious. With visual arts there is something tangible, good or bad, that leaves a feeling as well an object that can be touched and felt. I needed that concrete evidence.

“When I went back to school, after raising my children and being a housewife, mother, companion, and “looker after,” my thoughts were to be more sophisticated than I had been with the arts, and to expand my watercolor background to include oils, drawing materials, and water miscible media to further my endeavors.

“My inner life has been foremost in my imaginings. Religion and politics are other persons’ subject matter. It’s my family and myself that has been the subject of my paintings, whether the actual picture is of birds, trees, interiors, or the Snake River. Whether there has been guilt, sorrow or happiness expressed, color has a great deal to do with my feelings.

“I used to wonder about painting things that represented other ideas. As I get older I wonder less. I look back at things I’ve painted and recognize that they represented a period of my life. Not being a wordsmith, I put things into paintings, choosing the media according to what would express the feeling of the painting best – not that there were conscious decisions. Things just happened. Now, I believe that there are no accidents, the right people show up at the right time and we all have a higher power that/who has an influence on our lives.

“It is up to us to trust and it is our honor to be creative.”
$800 (Last Copy)

27 - 72 book
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27 - 72 book
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27 - 72 book
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The János Book
By Alex Appella
2006. Edition of 50.

21.7 x 63.8 cm (approx. 8.5 x 25”); 35 pages printed on one side. Includes 29 full color collages. Boards in black cloth with Japanese stab binding. Cut out on front board to reveal the face of one brother. Housed in a blackcloth clamshell box. Printed on 120 gram Bakri Avorio Paper using an Epson Inkjet printer and Epson Durabright Inks. Research, writing, design, printing, and binding by Alex Appella.

It’s difficult not to be hyperbolic about the scope and accomplishment of this work. Twelve years of research and development do not even begin to speak of its cost, or of its value. Because it involves self-knowledge, this book feels as painful and liberating as birth.

Questions abound: Is the past ever past? How long are its tentacles? Despite what we think in America, is it possible to reinvent oneself?

Full of drama both high and low, the story spans the 20th century. A 20-year-old Appella gets her Great Uncle János to open up about things that have not been talked about for decades. It begins – but we don’t know this at the beginning – with a Jewish family and five siblings in pre-WWI Hungary. By the time Alex Appella, the granddaughter of one of those siblings, becomes a part of the saga 70 or so years later, the family has been challenged by circumstance, diminished by events beyond their control, and scattered by personal decision. Heritage denied; heritage embraced. Does it make a difference?

My grandfather’s brother – your brother – emigrated to Palestine? We are Jewish? What do you mean? What does that mean? What can it mean?

Pontificate about the value of truth all you want to, The János Book reveals its cost.

Appella’s collage technique is well suited to capture this layered tale. The pages froth with art as well as information.

"One has to cry for the disintegration of our family. One has to cry, because what happened to us, has happened to millions of families all over the world. Since my childhood, it's like a bomb exploded among us, and we were scattered apart. An eye in Cuba, a bone in Argentina, a hand in California, a foot in Connecticut, and still more in Israel and Canada and Switzerland, all over the world. Conversations like what you and I have, Alex, at one time were common among family members. I'm passing on what I know of our family, to add meat and flesh to the pieces that have been scattered all over the world. The unity of what we once were can still give us strength, and can remind us of what we need for strength in the present and in the future.

"At some point, one must ask: what really leaves traces behind us? Nothing. What is painful today, or what was painful yesterday, or what is going to be painful tomorrow, in the end turns out to be nothing more than anecdotes. And then nothing. It is forgotten. Life is like water, it cleanses everything. Even the most painful. But the written word is not lost, ever. Memory, memory fades. The pain and the traces always disappear with time. The written word does not."
János Szenti


The János Book
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The János Book
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Click here for the link to Instagram






The János Letter
By Alex Appella
Icho Cruz, Argentina: Alex Appella, 2014. Edition of 50.

8.5 x 25 x1.5"; 16 leaves. Digitally printed. 11 digitally produced collages and woven pages. Bound in a hardback Japanese stab binding. Laid in cloth-covered clamshell box. Text in English and Spanish. Signed and numbered by the artist on the colophon page.

"The János Letter" is a companion book to "The János Book," which the artist produced in 2006. "The János Book" grew from a series of interviews the artist had with her Great Uncle János, through which she learned the long-hidden secrets of her family's origins and identity. In May 2014, Appella received a letter written in 1983 from János who had passed away in 2003. Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.

Alex Appella: "In May of 2014 I received a letter in the mail. From János. Years after he passed away. Years after I finished the book you read, which tells of him, and his decision to reveal our family’s identity despite decades of secrecy. The letter is a prologue. The letter is an epilogue. The letter is a turning point within a work believed to be complete. The letter, and its arrival, is too unbelievable to not share it with you, so that you may decide for yourself. And so, I bring to you a woven book, a true story...The János Letter."
The János Letter
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Poetry books by Transient Press with poetry written by Alex Appella.

Temptations of the Frijolera Pot
By Alex Apella
Icho Cruz, Argentina: Transient Books, 2001. Edition of 240.

48 full-color illustrations of over 20 poems. Each of the 240 numbered copies (120 in English, 120 en Español) is hand-bound by the author. Illustrated by Silvana de Gonzalez. Single volume double-back binding version with English and Spanish versions at opposite ends.

This collection of poems reflect an overland journey the author made with her husband from Alaska to Costa Rica. (October 1999-May 2000) The pages of this book blossom people, livelihoods and mysteries that accompany any traveler with an open heart.

The illustrations are realized using collage, pencil, ink, and watercolor. The author gave this collection of poems (unillustrated) to Silvana de Gonzalez as a gift upon her return from an extended journey throughout South America. As a surprise, Silvana then returned the book, fully illustrated, to the author. The illustrations were then scanned and prepared for off set printing.

The 240 numbered copies are bound in a number of different formats: single language and bilingual, with or without slip cases, using a wide variety of materials. No two copies are alike.

Single volume in slipcase $98 (Last 3 copies)


Temptations of the Frijolera Pot book

Temptations of the Frijolera Pot book


What Are You Doing Here?
By Alex Apella
Icho Cruz, Argentina: Transient Books, 2003. Open Edition (Discontinued).

5.5 x 4.25". Of the decision made by one US citizen to continue living in a crisis-stricken, unstable Argentina.

'What are you doing here?'

Argentina asks me everyday.
'We're all trying to leave and you come to live here?'
They ask, and ask again.
'But why would you ever want to live here?'
Sometimes I respond, sometimes I invent, sometimes I ask back.
'What are you doing here, in the middle of all this mess?'
Sometimes I really have no answer at all.

$15 (Last two copies)



What Are You Doing Here? book
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Short Stories produced by Transient Press - Alex Appella, originally from Oregon, began biding her books on a boat in Alaska, with the idea that original literature should be accessible, both for the writer and for the reader.

The Tempest, the Shadow & the Lunatic
By Alex Apella
Icho Cruz, Argentina: Transient Books, 2008. Hardcover, unlimited but numbered.

5 x 6 x 1.25"; 68 pages.This illustrated edition was published in 2008. This expands (with photographs) an unillustrated softcover version first published in 2001. Epson inkjet printer with archival inks. Binding of both versions is accordion style with the 3 short stories in the valley-folds. Softcover has blue paper covers with sewn binding. Hardcover is quarter cloth with photo images on front and back boards, and comes in a box with fitted lid. Box has decorative papers over bookboard with reproduced photograph inset. Written, designed, and bound by Alex Appella.

All photos that enhance the stories were taken at the time the events occurred.

Three short stories by Alex Appella documenting journeys while traveling through Mexico and Nicaragua.

Alex Appella: "'the tempest' is an encounter with Javier and Silvia who lead us to a high sierra town of few words and many mushrooms. 'the shadow' is of a hitchhike ride with Patricia in her mini-van that left us in an ancient Zapotec village. 'the lunatic' is a window into selling books in the plazas of a broken Nicaragua."
$180 illustrated numbered edition, hardcover and boxed
$25 unillustrated trade edition, softcover

The Tempest, the Shadow & the Lunatic book

The Tempest, the Shadow & the Lunatic book
Hardcover - Click image for more


SOLD and/or out of print titles by Alex Appella:  

Amerika Skitzofrenika
By Alex Apella
Cover design by Magu Appella
Icho Cruz, Argentina: Transient Books, 2001. Open Edition.

8.25 x 5.25"; 14 photocopied pages, handsewn into 8.5 x 6" brown cardstock.

A collection of vignettes and poems, memories of a young American woman now living in South America which she found herself repeating to individuals in Latin America who asked her about growing up in the USA.

On highways going through the forest, there are yellow diamond-shaped signs that have icons of jumping deer on them. (Beware of deer crossing the road.

Or rocks tumbling off a cliff. (Beware of falling rocks.)

There are yellow signs warning of curvy roads, of ice, of ducks.


Amerika Skitzofrenika book
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El Trueque
By Alex Appella
Icho Cruz, Argentina: 2001, Transient Books. Open Edition (Discontinued 2007).

6.75 x 8.5"; 24 pages. All acid-free materials. Printed on 106 gram paper, using Futura Lt BT bond. Quarter bound in green bookcloth with illustrated paper-covered boards. Bound using a reinforced perfect binding. Written, designed, and bound by Alex Appella.

Alex Appella: "A collection of non-fiction short stories written in the sierras of Córdoba, Argentina, in 2000 and 2001. El trueque is the practice of bartering in Argentina.

At the time this book was written, the peso was harder and harder to come by, and bartering clubs became an ever increasing way for Argentineans to put food on the table and take care of basic clothing and miscellaneous needs. These true stories are based on Alex & Magu's [the printer/artist and her husband] experiences as regular participants in these bartering clubs."
(SOLD/Out of Print)



El Trueque book


Flash Flood
By Alex Appella
2005. Edition of 10.

8.75 x 6.5", 58 pages. Binding and design by Alex Appella. Illustration on title page created by Eve Slinker for this edition. From the Colophon: Flat Back Binding. The signatures are sewn onto linen tapes. The deckled pages are of Rives Tradition 120 gm paper. The content is printed on an Epson Inkjet printer using Garamond font. The slip cover is made of 250 gm Bakri coverstock. All materials are acid-free.

Flash Flood is a collection of poems written in 2003-4 that reflect the river valley where the author lives in the province of Córdoba, Argentina. The poems are divided into four themes: Place & Time, People, Thought, Beyond. The design of this edition is meant to accompany the endangered habit of spending a quiet afternoon with a book of poetry.

Jose, a poem from Flash Flood.

the stone mason
learned from his father
and grandfather
all the world is a stage
he can build
stone by stone
which he does
as they did
he can build
story by story
which makes for quite a foundation
such thick walls
even a solid roof
that not the wind, nor jealousy,
not the sun, nor gossip
can erode.

(Out of print)


Flash Flood book
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The Garden
By Alex Apella

15 pages. Written and bound by Alex Appella.

Alex Apella: "A series of poems from life within the chaos of Argentina. As my vegetable garden grows, I watch inside and I watch outside and these are the words found in my sierra town, in the day, in this country tumbling through a nervous breakdown. "
(Out of print)

The Garden book


The Hammock Book:
Tales of Suspension on a Planet in Extreme Crisis

By Alex Apella
Icho Cruz, Argentina: Transient Books, 2002.

17 pages. Paperback Japanese Stab binding. Cover photo by Alex Appella. Printed on an Epson Ink Jet Printer, using archival inks. Written and bound by Alex Appella.

Alex Apella: "This collection of poems was written in Icho Cruz, Argentina in 2001 and 2002. Both September 11th and a memorable economic crisis in Argentina provided the back drop for the author's words: Should they stay in Argentina? Should they go? At times pessimistic and fearful, the author finds a sense of place and proportion in nature, in the hammock in the back yard."

     The gypsies
roam in flags
of no nations
flowering breasts
nectars just covered
in yards of color
from this continent
and that one. ...

(Out of print)


The Hammock Book

pacha mama
By Alex Appella
San Antonio de Arredondo, Córdoba, Argentina: Transient Books, 2013. Open Edition.

5.5 x 5.5" closed. Criss-crossed accordion book. Digitally produced collages printed using Epson inkjet printer. Bilingual text. Created and bound by Alex Appella.

Alex Appella: "Each August, in our homes, in our community, we give thanks to the Pacha Mama, to Mother Earth. We open her mouth, and we offer our abundance: our favorite foods, our kindest words, our music. We give thanks. We apologize. We put our rational and intellectual noise on pause, and we connect with the source of all life. Each year, I am moved more deeply by the perspective this celebration gives to me as an individual, to all of us as a whole.

"Despite cell phones, facebook, credit cards, unchecked abuse of local resources, feverish economic growth, the need for connection to what cannot be bought or measured or converted into a commodity has come forth as an undeniable presence in our yearly cycle."

Colophon: " Thanks to new neighbors who have come from Jujuy, in Northern Argentina, where the tradition is stronger, this celebration has taken deep root in our community in the sierras of Córdoba, in Central Argentina."
pacha mama book
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Well Diggers
By Alex Apella

10 cm x 10 cm. A bi-lingual presentation of a poem written in Teotitlán del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico in 2000. Una presentación bilingüe de un poema escrito en Teotitlán del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico en 2000.

The well diggers,

one below and one above,
pull up a bucket at a time
of rock
they began digging 8 months ago.
The circle they are pressing into the earth
is a meter and a half across
and barely 14 meters deep
and only just now damp

(Out of print)


Well Diggers book
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Page last update: 01.18.2022


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