WINTER RIVER, BLACK ICE
prints and photographs
by Paulette Myers-Rich
Minnesota Center for Book Arts Annual
Fine Press Book Art Publication
Opening December 9, 2017 through January 28, 2018
I am a recent transplant to Beacon, New York in the Hudson Valley, from St. Paul, Minnesota on the upper Mississippi River. For decades, the Minnesota Center for Book Arts in Minneapolis was my studio/classroom/community and home away from home. I began as a papermaking intern at MCBA in 1985 and was present when the first annual Winter Book was produced in 1988. The Winter Book publication is “the embodiment of MCBA’s artistic vision to preserve and promote both the traditional crafts of bookmaking- hand papermaking, letterpress printing, printmaking and hand bookbinding, as well as the contemporary exploration of the book as art.” This has become my artistic vision as well.
The Winter Book production involves many hands: artists, designers, papermakers, printers, bookbinders and community volunteers join in producing a handmade, limited edition artist’s book featuring poetry or prose by a Minnesota author or editor. I learned how to set type by hand and do letterpress bookwork as a Winter Book intern under the guidance of master printer Gaylord Schanilec and stayed on to strengthen my skills working on many other Winter Book projects, eventually serving as master printer on two titles with interns of my own to teach. I came full circle as a letterpress printer and book artist through this publication.
“The artistry and hand craftsmanship of each Winter Book makes it an avidly collected series, included in museum and rare book library collections across the country and around the world.” (MCBA)
I have collected these books since 1990 and will share them with visitors this December through January 2018, in the Reading Room here at Photo Book Works.
Also on view are images from my project Winter River, Black Ice, a multi-year study of ice patterns as seen from the High Bridge in St. Paul, on the Upper Mississippi River. These observations of the frozen Mississippi River were made about a mile downstream from B’dote, the sacred origin site of the Dakota people where the Minnesota River enters the Mississippi. This confluence is influenced by the presence of a massive riverside power plant. Once coal fired, the newly built natural gas fuel heats water for steam turbines that generate electricity, resulting in warm water refuse that’s dumped into the Mississippi through an outlet on the north bank of the river. This temperature difference combined with the influx of sediment filled water from B’dote, influences the patterns of freezing through constant thawing and open water surrounded by ice and snow. The collision of severe sub-zero surface winds and warm discharge water flowing beneath the ice creates unique patterns that are constantly changing. Windblown surface snow, hard pack ice and the presence of power lines and bridge shadows add to the landscape configurations, the result of the built environment set in deep-time big nature.
Visit the Book Report page of this site to read more about some Winter Books on view in the Reading Room.