Niles, MI: 2010. Unique artist's book, the first of two in a series, comprising lidded outer box with inner, removable open box, visible through small window, inner box with five accordion books with poems and digitally-printed photograph and collaged photograph images, plus another interior box containing single accordion book tied with leather casing containing digitally-printed photograph images with text from 1884 diary entries made by John David Shortess, great-grandfather of the artist, as a young circuit preacher in central Pennsylvania, all images and text except that of John Shortess by the artist / author, Eugenie Torgerson, who has signed the piece on the bottom of the footed stand on which the large outer box sits. She has also signed four of the five books contained in the first box.
Components: Footed stand: 7.25 x 7.25 x 2 inches; painted pine board, ball feet, binder's board and terracotta colored bookcloth. Lidded outer box: 7.5 x 7.5 x 8 inches; original photographs by the artist printed on Epson Premium Presentation Matte paper and presented under TruVue non-reflective glass with "frames" of various black, pale blue, and gold Asian papers over binder's board, bookcloth, trimmed with various brass decorative elements, against a ground of brown cloth over boards, with lid of lime green and terracotta cloth over boards with two different papers both of lime green on the bottom and black, blue and gold with glass panel in center allowing a view of the inner boxes and books, the glass surrounded by rubbed brass nails. Open inner box: 6 x 6 x 6 inches made of black bookcloth over binders board and terracotta silk cords, terracotta cloth over boards base. Four accordion books: 5 x 5.5 x .25 inches containing 12 pages each, hand-sewn accordion style binding, with boards covered in various Asian papers, endpapers of Stonehenge paper coated with shellac. Small inner box with lid: 5.5 x 3.5 x 4.25 inches, black bookcloth over boards, terracotta cloth on bottom, lid of terracotta and lime green cloth over boards with black and gold Asian paper on reverse of lid with title, artist and date, printed in black on lime green paper label, brass decorative trim and wood knob. John David's accordion book: 5.5 x 3.5 x .75 inches; 22pp; bound accordion style with green printable fabric bookcloth reproducing image of original "Standard Diary" used by Ms. Torgerson's great-grandfather. Photographic image of very rural landscape with white house on the last page following the end of the text, printed digitally on Stonehenge, enhanced with pastel and sealed with polymer varnish. The text reads, "Today we got things pretty well fixed up. I feel good at home. I like it here right well. It is a very hardy house and a very pleasant place to live." On the reverse are printed copies of some daily journal entries over photographs of mountains and fields. The book is held together with a green leather and black cord and black button sewn to the leather.
Ms. Torgerson notes that her great-grandfather's diary gives accounts of his daily activities but rarely mentions how he feels about things. The text used on the reverse of his day book, starting "Today..." is as close as he comes to a personal revelation.
Ms. Torgerson's own verse, as printed in the five books housed in the large open box - J.D. Shortess text in the small, closed box - is as open as the box that houses it. Haunting collaged images of faces over prairie landscape, stone walls built by hand as the land was cleared, rivers through virgin landscape, one white house lovingly built by the first homesteaders, are interspersed with the text pages that refer to an earlier time when pioneers left the confines of the city for open land - or does it? Is every life a new construct?
Ms. Torgerson's verse and images are at once a paean to her pioneering ancestors as well as musings on the life lived by us all. Her use of boxes - with glass lid or open or closed - provides the perfect vehicle to explore her images and text. The beauty of the images and the probing text compel the reader / viewer forward, asking us to explore further. She has constructed a beautiful book and book object and, in so doing, enables us to participate in the "taming of the wilderness" that was the American frontier. Item #10404