Paper Souvenir ~ Alabama
(Jessica Peterson)

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Jessica Peterson: “In a culture that offers fast and cheap ways to print and bind, craft-based bookmaking is a powerful and political act. I utilize letterpress printing and hand papermaking to create artists’ books about neglected and underprivileged American narratives. When traditional methods are used to publish non-traditional texts, an exciting juxtaposition is created, which enhances and memorializes the narratives. I have made artists’ books about the effects of Hurricane Katrina on Biloxi, Mississippi; the closing of Coney Island; slavery in Alabama, a race riot in Rochester, New York.

“The grind of daily life compromises one's ability to activate a full range of emotion. My artist books are toolkits to summon and maintain these lost emotions. The contents of the books are images and words collected from everyday experience; recognizable things whose familiarity quickly and unconsciously evokes emotion. My books allow the viewer access to desire, love, escapism, fear, sadness, loneliness and nostalgia, etc.”

   

Unbound
Conceived and designed by Jessica Peterson
Stories donated by Everett Berryman Jr., Alejia “Mickie” Pride Carrington, Shirley Eanes, Florence Edwards, James E. Holcomb, Dorothy Holcomb, Rita Moseley, Rhonda Stockton Rowland, and Douglas M. Vaughan.
Farmville, Virginia/ Alabama: Short Twig Press, 2014. Edition of 100.

5.5 x 8" closed, extends to 70"; 16 pages. Double-sided accordion. Letterpress printed with photopolymer plates. Printed on paper of abaca and cotton handmade under the direction of Kerri Cushman. Sabon and Scala Sans typefaces. Numbered.

Paper Souvenir Press: "Unbound is a limited edition artists’ book which honors the veterans of Prince Edward County’s 1959 school lock out. All 100 copies of the book were letterpress-printed on handmade paper in a single month, produced collaboratively by community members in Farmville and faculty and students at Longwood University. The book was conceived and designed by artist Jessica Peterson and recounts the closing of the public schools in Prince Edward County, Virginia, from 1959 to 1964. Unbound tells this story of these events with timelines, archival evidence, and collected narratives from the veterans of the closings. Gold stars flow through each page, one star for each person whose life was permanently altered by the school closings."

Colophon: "Unbound is a tribute to the veterans of the 1959 school lock out, individuals who have carried their scars with grace for the last fifty years, with hope that they will continue to share their stories."

Introduction: "In the fall of 1959, the public schools in Prince Edward County, Virginia were closed in response to a court order to desegregate. The schools remained closed for five years.

"Many white children began attending a system of private schools established by the Prince Edward School Foundation. As permitted by state law, tuition for these schools was almost completely subsidized by the government.

"No one elected to attend the private academy for black students organized by the same group of white leaders.

"Approximately 4,000 children in Prince Edward County waited five years for the public school system to open, as lawsuits about the intersection of public education and race circulated through the state and federal courts."


CBAA Newsletter, Spring 2014:Unbound is about the little known but unprecedented civil rights history of Prince Edward County, Virginia, the home of Longwood University. In 1951, frustrated by the conditions of the segregated schools, black students staged a protest and walked out of Robert Russa Moton High School. The incident became a lawsuit, which then was presented to the US Supreme Court as one of five cases lumped together as Brown v. Board of Education. In 1959, rather than integrate as mandated by the US Supreme Court, Prince Edward County closed the public school system to all students. The schools stayed closed for four years, until the Kennedy Administration opened a federally-sponsored school system in 1963. 2014 is the 50th anniversary of this event.

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Unbound recounts the history of these events with quotes from the more than 1,700 people who were locked out of their public schools for four years. … All parts of the production of the book are shared by the students in the Editions class, faculty, and members of the community. Students also interacted with local civil rights veterans, an amazing experience in living history for many of them (during one community bookbinding session, an older black woman was overheard explaining to a group of white under-graduates why she had hated all white people for most of her life)."
$300


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Ma'Cille's Museum of Miscellanea
An incomplete catalog of the collection
Drawings by Glenn House, Sr.
Compiled by Jessica Peterson
Gordo, Alabama: Paper Souvenir Press, 2011. Edition of 30.

5.5 x 8.5"; 80 pages with five pull outs. Letterpress printed on textblock cotton rag handmade paper from Alabama clay colored t-shirts. Typefaces: ITC Veljovic and Adobe Caslon. Paper covered boards with exposed stab binding. Laid in a printed four-flap paper folder,

Paper Souvenir Press: "This artists' book, which was researched, written and designed by Jessica Peterson, is a partial catalog of the collection of one woman's museum of natural history, taxidermy, and folk life, located on a rural back road near Gordo, Alabama. The content is letterpress printed on handmade paper and features drawings of the museum objects by Glenn House, Sr [Ma'Cille's son]."

Mark Hughes Cobb, Tuscaloosanews.com: House of Art: "His [Glenn House, Sr's] mother was famous for never throwing anything away. But Lucille 'Ma'Cille' Hollingsworth House went much further. She sought out what many would think of as junk – dug-up bottles, dolls, farm implements, taxidermy, fossils, even whole buildings, such as an old country store – and gathering and displaying them in such a manner as to create an almost hallucinogenic collective effect.

"In an interview with The Tuscaloosa News in 1998, Ma'Cille House said, 'I never threw anything away. My husband used to tell it he had to climb in the window to go to bed. You wouldn't think about doing it. You just get kind of caught up.'

"Opened as Ma'Cille's Museum of Miscellanea in the early 1960s, it took on legendary status as a kind of indescribable roadside attraction: You really had to see it firsthand to get it, to crawl around inside the several buildings' worth of miscellanea to feel its beguiling, dream-like power. ...

"As Ma'Cille's health declined in the late '90s, the House family had to move the matriarch into assisted care. Facing heavy financial burdens, the decision was made to auction off the museum's contents in 1998. Ma'Cille passed away Dec. 31, 1999, with her family collected around."

$400


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Cause and Effect
By Jessica Peterson
Northport, Alabama: Paper Souvenir, 2009. Edition of 55.

5.5 x 8.5"; 30 pages. Letterpress printed on handmade paper using photopolymer plates. Illustrations printed from newspaper and microfilm clippings. Drum leaf binding structure. Bound in paper over boards with cloth spine. Front boards acts as title page; back boar illustrated.

Jessica Peterson: "Cause and Effect is an editioned artists’ book about how racial identity is formed through geography and history. It is an autobiographical story about the connections between a race riot in my hometown, my upbringing, and my racial awareness."

This book was created in as a thesis project for Peterson's MFA in Book Arts from the University of Alabama. The excerpts that follow, from Peterson's thesis, show bookmaking as a process of self-discovery: "Evolution of concept: The goal of my thesis project was to create a well printed, conceptually clear and structurally sound artist book about my race development. In my original thesis proposal I wrote: 'The content of the thesis book will investigate the role race has played in my life both culturally and historically. I want to highlight events that have informed my awareness of race. The project’s text will be a combination of historical facts, newspaper excerpts and autobiographical commentary. These texts will be organized along two dueling chronological narratives that will chart significant race-centered events in places I have lived. The narratives will focus on two distinct time periods: the first, 1830-1960 (United States history from slavery through desegregation); the second, 1976-2008 (my lifetime). I hope that the exploration of my own experience will inspire the readers of the book to consider how race has affected their own cultural and historical development….'

"My original idea was to retrace the history of slavery and racism in the places I frequented while living in Alabama. Since I moved to the South, I have been disturbed and perplexed by the lack of acknowledgement of race-based events, both the atrocities and the positive occurrences. These histories seem to be undiscussed, but deeply buried in memory. While considering these things about the South, I considered my life, to see if there were any race-based events or defining atrocities in any of the places I lived prior to Alabama. Before moving to Alabama, I lived in New York, Chicago, and Maine… all places that in my mind represented emancipation, equality, and desegregation.

"I spoke to many Alabama natives while trying to find the history I was looking for. One of my friends, a Southerner, said to me, 'You know, people always say that the bad stuff only happened down here in the South, but I know that same kind of stuff happened in the north, it’s just that no one talks about it.' To me, at the time, this was a standard thing that a Southerner would say to a Northerner like me who was investigating Southern history. While part of me dismissed what she was saying, I decided it was important to make absolutely sure my own personal history did not contain direction connections to slavery, or any civil rights events. This is when I learned about the race riot in Rochester.

"There wasn’t a single defining moment of discovery. I gradually learned the riot and my connections to it in small snippets of information: civil unrest, a helicopter crash, riots in New York City and Newark. I researched these snippets until I found sources of information about the Rochester riot which were so large and obvious that I couldn’t believe I had never heard about the riot."
$300


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Witness, 1956
By Jessica Peterson
Tuscaloosa, Alabama: Paper Souvenir, 2008. Edition of 60.

4.5 x 5.25"; 8 pages. Single sheet in french fold. Letterpress printed. Handmade paper made in the Lost Arch Papermill on the University of Alabama campus. Typeface: Garamond. Sources: The Schoolhouse Door by E. Culpepper Clark; The Tuscaloosa News; and The New York Times.

Jessica Peterson: "This is an abstracted map of the University of Alabama campus, marking the violent protests which took place during the first attempt at racial integration at the school. The only named physical landmark on the map is a live oak tree. The other locations on the map are indicated only by the events that transpired there, and a date. Witness, 1956 is a physical retracing of history, linking the past to the present."
$35

 


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Paper Souvenir Our of Print Title:
• Habitat
 
   

Ex-Slave
By Jessica Peterson
Tuscaloosa, Alabama: Paper Souvenir, 2008. Edition of 45.

4.5 x 6.5"; 48 pages. The typeface is Centaur. Printed with photopolymer plates on Frankfurt paper. The cover, endsheets and inset papers are dyed with India ink and acrylic paint. Bound in paper covered boards. Designed and printed by artist.

The contents of this book are from taken the Federal Writers' Project Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States From Interviews with Former Slaves. The Writers' project ran from 1936 to 1938 during which over 2,000 interviews of former slaves were conducted. There was a methodology used in the interviews in how to transcribe the vernacular of the former slaves. This book by Jessica Peterson contains two narratives. Amy Chapman and George Young were slaves on the plantation of Governor Reuben Chapman which was located near Livingston, Alabama. In gathering information for this book Peterson found that parts of the original transcript of Amy Chapman's interview were excluded from the official Writers' Project Document. These excerpts have been included in this book and are identified by a thin line along the inside margin.

Besides the two slave narratives Ex-Slave includes a section on the "Documents from the Federal Writers' Project" about Negro Dialect Suggestions; Supplementary Instructions; Twenty Questions for the ex-slaves; and Notes by an editor on dialect.
(SOLD)

   

Page last update: 08.12.14

 

   
  
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