Here Now There Then Mississippi River

Bernice Ficek-Swenson

Color Photogravure Etchings & Artist Book

On view from June 9 – July 8, 2018
Opening: Beacon’s Second Saturday, June 9, 5-8 pm
Artist talk, Sunday, June 10 6pm



No.3 Reading Room & Photo Book Works is pleased to host Bernice Ficek-Swenson’s stunning color photogravure etchings and artist book from her Here Now There Then series. Of this work, Bernice writes:

“Why do we collect stones? They sit in our gardens, window sills and in our jean jackets.  Is it a memory keepsake? A talisman connecting us to primordial earth? Part of a collective unconscious? I collect stones and have used them in my imagery for over 25 years. This interest began as a 20-year-old map drafter working with geologists in New Mexico where I held a stone from the moon in my right palm. That moment was a revelation that enlarged my perception of time and space. Since then my artistic explorations have expanded to use stones as a metaphor suggesting not just landscape, but environment touched by human presence.

Prehistoric megalithic sites like the Stones of Stenness and Ring of Brodgar in the Scottish Orkney Islands, the Medicine Wheel in northern Wyoming and contemporary Land Art, such as Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty have long intrigued me. I’ve traveled to many of these locations and continue to be inspired by the meaning and the geometric arrangements of these sites. The Here Now There Then and related Stone Voices project began after a “pilgrimage” /research trip to Carnac on the French Brittany coast where I walked alongside 3000 Neolithic standing stones in alignment.  These stone rows, circles, menhirs and dolmens cover miles of terrain and are older than the pyramids.

Here Now There Then is a suite of 6 stones that represent a specific geologic feature or suggests a historic significance. The stones are borrowed from places like the headwaters of the Mississippi, an exposed mantle of the earth in Newfoundland, a D-Day Beach, Pompeii, and Varanasi, the cremation site on the Ganges River.

Related to this suite of photogravures is Stone Voices.  This artist book offers photographic and written reflections of 12 stones with narratives written by six contributors that portray the history or a memory-description of each landscape visited. Accompanying three accordion books are geological descriptions of each stone, a copper plate photogravure and letterpress printed title page, colophon, and essay by Minneapolis writer, Robert Silberman.”

Stone Voices book 1

Stone Voices book 2

Concept, photographs and direction, Bernice Ficek-Swenson; Design collaboration, Joanne Price and Bernice Ficek-Swenson. Stone Voices, consists of three accordion books and a folio housed inside a clothbound clamshell box. Each book contains four archival photographic images. Related narrative text is printed on translucent paper. Included in the folio is a copper plate photogravure and letterpress printed title page, colophon, and essay by Robert Silberman. A photographic grid of the stones and geologic descriptions complete the concept. Hand-signed by the artist and designer in a limited edition of 12, 2017. Book, 10 x 8 in.; box, 11 1/8 x 9 x 3 in.


Bernice will give an artist talk on Sunday, June 10 at 6 pm at 469 Main St. Free and open to the public, seating is limited and reservations are required. Please contact to reserve and for further information.







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