About a year and half ago, a friend talked me into attending a conference of papermakers. Sometimes I am not confident in my skills and identity and so around papermakers I tend to identify as a printmaker and vice versa. I once declared myself an enthusiast of mail art, because I love postcards but I didn't realize there is a community of people who participate in mail art and though in some ways it has influenced what I do, it is not the most accurate description.
At this conference I met other papermaker-printmakers and we started a critique group, a salon if you will. We met, ate food, shared what we were working on. A new member joined as one left, and then another new member to make 4. We decided on the name subset as a reference to the overlap of our abilities and interests (including an interest in Venn diagrams). We applied for residencies and had shows on our own and then decided to get a show together.
We started with the idea of showing our individual work maybe linking them together by theme, like an exquisite corpse. Then we had the idea to try a few collaborative pieces. For one meeting,w e each brought something we had started but couldn't finish, blank paper, abandoned prints, half-finished books. We lay them on the table and then watch chose a few pieces to try to work on. We brought them back to the next meeting, lay them on the table again with additional unfinished pieces and chose again. Over 2 months we met about 5 times to exchange work and in this way created a body of weird paper works that somehow worked together, a bit of a pleasant surprise as we hung the show hours before the opening.
As we began this project, we also played the parlor game exquisite corpse, each starting a drawing, folding it over so only a few lines were visible , then passing it around to the next person to add to it. I made letterpress prints of the finished drawing and spent nights before the show opening hand coloring them with water color paint and a gold pen.
Of course I made a postcard that fit in this theme.
Keep Writing number 87, exquisite corpse. I can't wait to see what is sent back to me.
EXQUISITE works by subset is open at EM Wolfman Books in downtown Oakland through the end of June.