|Sarah Langworthy, Morpho Terrestre (2006)|
Happy Leap Day, everyone! February 29th only comes around once every four years, so it’s a great day to celebrate. Today we’ll be taking a closer look at the rare beauty of Sarah Langworthy’s combination of letterpress and book art in Morpho Terrestre (2006).
Langworthy’s work is a small book of 10 gatefold pages on Sakamoto paper, bound with Japanese Multi Section binding using silk thread. The paper alone is soft and beautiful, but perhaps the most stunning part of the book is the beautiful, bold, and feeling of simultaneous depth and shallowness—like looking into a stream—of Langworthy’s visual images.
The deepness of Morpho Terrestre was achieved through a process of layering ink upon ink: placing one color, allowing it to dry, and following it up with another image. Langworthy’s visuals do not only use printed ink, however, but places a layer of ink painting in between. This can been seen especially well at right, where the layers of gray look like a watercolor painting: thin, soft, lightly brushed on the paper. The blue, however, looks thicker, deeper, both in its overlay and alone as the flowers on the top. The combination of these colors and styles make the paper no long seem to be paper, but a three-dimensional look into nature.
Nature is the main theme of Langworthy’s piece, with the images inspired by (in her words) “various plants, roots, and leaves found in late winter/early spring.” The pages contain images of mountains, flowers, leaves, streams, all in the subdued tones of purples and grays juxtaposed with bright whites and blues. The paper, dyed and printed unevenly, adds even more depth to the piece and gives it a pure and natural feel.
One of my favorite parts of Langworthy’s piece is her use of poetry, written by Emily Wilson, alongside the visual images. While book arts do not necessarily need to have type involved, I find the mixture of language and color one of the most satisfying parts of any book. Poetry creates a visual and emotion as it is read, and that is conveyed even better when seen next to these paintings. Having the poems printed on the same sheets of paper (just the opposite side) of the images also make the poems feel organic, part of the pulped wood of paper and paint, part of the bits of nature Langworthy collected and scanned. Overall, the entire Morpho Terrestre feels like it sounds: a piece of the changing earth, capturing a glimpse of its cold nights and brisk, dim mornings, and placing the beauty of that alongside the beauty of poetry.
Sarah Langworthy’s Morpho Terrestre can be seen until March 31st in the Center for Book Art’s main exhibition, Fine & Dirty: Contemporary Letterpress Art. Admission, as always, is free!
For more information about Fine & Dirty, as well as our Featured Artist Projects, visit http://www.centerforbookarts.org/exhibits/
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