Olfactory Press ~ Vermont
(Sarah Smith)

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Sarah Smith teaches letterpress printing, bookbinding and printmaking . With her work she creates “a world where inanimate objects have emotions and family reunions, where humans have absurd interactions, and where authority and scholarship are questioned.”

Posers International
The 2012 Prize Winners
with Bonus Photos of the Judges

By Sarah Smith
Asheville, North Carolina: Olfactory Press, 2012. Edition of 45.

4.5 x 6.5" folded, opens to 17.9 x 13"; 9 pages (8 pages folded, one sheet opened). One sheet book. Letterpress printed on Neenah Environment paper. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Sarah Smith: "This book was made during a residency at Asheville Bookworks when I discovered the studio's printer's cuts. Many were of trophies, men with trophies or men with their families that looked like trophies. So I made up this scenario of why the images exist."

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Minutes: Dance Steps for the Beleaguered
Being an Enquiry into the Nature, Order and Methodology of the Professional Aggregation
Containing Triangulations and Refutations of
Dynamic Manipulatives by Two Persons of Letters
Hitherto Referred to as Dr. Flansbaum-Pierce and Dr. Francis J. Ascetabon
Written, illustrated, printed and bound by Sarah M. Smith
Beverly, Massachusetts: Olfactory Press, 2012. Edition of 36.

12 x 9" closed, 12 x 90" extended; 10 pages. Accordion structure extending from the front pastedown. Letterpress with polymer plates. Bound in paper-over-boards with cloth spine. Slipcase of lightweight paper folder with handwritten title label stickers on side. Signed, numbered, and dated by the artist.

Sarah Smith: "The humor in my work revolves around human behavior and interactions in social situations, academia, the workplace, and in history. Authority and authorship is brought into question as text and form turn out to be other than expected. Ideas and images are often put into a different context to better point out the absurdity in life.

"In the case of Dance Steps for the Beleaguered, life at a meeting is examined in the context of animal behavior, honey bee communication, animal enrichment programs for bored animals kept in captivity, flocking patterns, management of various farm animals, and other issues involving animals, their psychology, and social structures. Of course the parallel of human behavior to animal behavior is obvious, but when it is presented through the snippy comments and abstracts written by two bickering academics the connections become further blended and amplified at the same time. At least this is the aim. Another aim is to make the viewer/reader laugh and recognize even more connections between the absurdity of human constructs and the complexity of the natural world."

Colophon: "This book began as confusion, grew into irritation, and eventually became nervous amusement. This also describes much of my experience in the workplace and academia. Other than the influences I need not mention, inspiration for the book came from How to Know Fresh-Water Algae by G. W. Prescott, The Biggle Farm Library, The Shepherd’s Manual by Henry Stewart, The Journal of Musculoskeletal Pain, the on-line journal Applied Animal Behavior Science and many other gripping texts, especially those written by Edward Tufte. My research brought me into the fascinating worlds of honeybee communication and the 'waggle dance,' slime mold behavior, collective animal behavior, repulsion and attraction in alignment, Craig Reynolds’ Boid program, Temple Grandin’s approach to animal enrichment, the history of Semaphore, dance notation, elephant amusement, and so many other subjects that I only wish I could have included, or at least read about and not included.”

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Words for Distraction by Earl and Beaufort, the Dancing Monks
By Sarah Smith
Beverly, Massachusetts: Olfactory Press, 1997. Edition of 210.

2 x 5"; 28 pages. Single-sided accordion letterpress printed onto Frankfurt laid paper by a Vandercook Proof Press. Bound in boards of acrylic-dyed Japanese paper of an unspecified variety. Front board hot stamped with an image of Earl and Beaufort.

Sarah Smith: "Words for Distraction is a book of some favorite words as demonstrated by Earl and Beaufort (pronounced similar to "beautiful"), the dancing monks. The drawings and text were originally produced with pen and ink. Polymer plates were then created of the images for printing."


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the Fire Extinguisher Family Reunion
By Sarah Smith
Beverly, Massachusetts: Olfactory Press, 2009. Edition of 110.

5 x 9.375"; 20 pages. Letterpress printed. Typefaces: Stymie Black, Copperplate Gothic, and News Gothic in various sizes. Text printed with hand set type and with polymer plates onto French's Construction and Somerset Wove paper. Pamphlet stitched.

Colophon: "This book was conceived of and written by Sarah M. Smith, during a prolonged sulk between the years of 1994 and 2009."

Sarah Smith: "The idea began back when I was in the Book Arts/Printmaking MFA program at University of the Arts around 1992-'94. I was working with book artist/letterpress printer Mary Phelan in her studio she shared with book artist/papermaker, Bobbie Lippman, and book artist/printer/type caster, Kent Kasuboske. Kent had a great collection of printer's cuts, a considerable amount of them related to fire equipment.

"His friend's (I know him as Bob, the Brush-man) father used to print catalogs for firemen's equipment and when he was getting rid of these cuts Kent snapped them up (this is the story as I know it. I can't say for sure how it went down).

"To me the fire extinguisher cuts exhibited very different personalities from each other. Imagining the relationships between them and their tawdry stories became unavoidable. One cut in particular, looked like a group shot like from a family reunion. I used it as such in a greeting card from '95 (I think).

"While this idea was just beginning to take hold in my mind, an unfortunate turn of events occurred. Without going too deeply into that here, I'll just say that the fire extinguishers took on a new significance. I wanted to do something with them worthy of Kent. It's a tall order and as many of the cuts came to me and I remained paralyzed by the pressure I put on myself. Also, I allowed life and other ideas to take over. But it stayed, fermenting in my mind the whole time.

"Finally, after 15 years and many other events I decided I was ready to think about planning to start the project. I picked out the fire extinguishers that jumped out as possible family members, wrote possible identities on scraps of paper and laid them out on a big table in my studio. There they sat all summer until there was a call for entries to a juried alumni show at UArts. I plotted out a loose idea of a layout, title page and possible spreads in InDesign and submitted them.

"I spent January and a lot of February '09 on writing the stories of the different extinguishers, family members. Originally I planned to just have the fire extinguisher and their name on the page. But as usual, I can't ever keep things simple; I began writing more and more. At first the family members were based on generic characters you might find on TV. The bickering, competitive brothers, the playboy cousin and dull scenarios like that. Then people I knew started to creep in. My own family, co-workers, friends, myself—everyone really—became source material. No characters in the book are one person specifically, but more of a conglomeration of people I know. Some are less anchored in real people and remained more strictly imaginary, but hopefully they blend in. In the end I hope anyone reading the book will recognize people in their own lives and get a laugh."

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Should Cards: Package No. 1: Dating
By Sarah Smith
Beverly, Massachusetts: Olfactory Press, 2009. Edition of 125.

4.5 x 2"; 11 cards. Letterpress printed. In illustrated wrapper.

Sarah Smith: "Trading cards about men, dating, and scads of advice I've gotten on the topic."

Images of desirable (?) men on one side; on the reverse, hints for meeting them. Tongue firmly in cheek, but which cheek?

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Page last update: 08.04.17


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