Rosalux Artists Make Books

Updated: Nov 17, 2021

Book Launch event for Stock Pile and Dollars and Sense

Friday, December 3rd, 6:30-8:30PM.

Artist talk & brief Q&A at 7PM.

During the pandemic, as galleries closed and many art platforms went online, three lens-based Rosalux artists, Priscilla Briggs, Melissa Borman and Areca Roe, considered artist books as a way to get their work out into the world. Each artist premiered self-published books this fall, 2021. Artist books are a versatile medium with a range of possible forms, and the Rosalux artist books run the gamut from zine to booklet to artist monograph.

Priscilla Briggs’s zine Dollars and Sense evolved from the work in her April 2020 exhibition Reading Between the Lines at Rosalux Gallery that focused on themes of protest and economic inequality. The exhibition was open for one day before the gallery shut down due to the pandemic, leaving Priscilla to grapple with how to shift her practice to accommodate this new situation while addressing some of the pressing issues of our time. The structure of Dollars and Sense was inspired by the piece from her exhibit titled The Gap, and features a series of oppositions represented in gold and black text that describe and contrast components of the American system of capitalism that increasingly works to create different Americas for the wealthy versus everyone else. One of the challenges Priscilla faced when making the zine is the sheer amount of relevant and complex data that had to be narrowed down and abbreviated to fit the zine format, which is a hefty publication encompassing 56 pages of text, photographs and QR codes. The images are the results of Priscilla’s documentation of the Black Lives Matter protests in Minneapolis during the Summer of 2020. The QR codes are designed to turn the reading into an interactive experience.

Priscilla collaborated with designer Jenna Brouse, who did the layout for the printing, screen-printed the covers, created the illustrations embedded in the QR codes, and acted as a general consultant and support throughout the project.

The next three issues of the Dollars and Sense zine series will address issues related to capitalism and globalization, and will feature the works of artists gathered through a current call for photographs put out by Rose Bramble Books. Please check it out if you are interested in submitting! The series is funded by a MNSAB Create Support for Individuals grant.

Melissa Borman’s booklet Birds is a collaboration with writer Andy Sturdevant and designer Justin Allen, based on her ongoing photography project of the same title, but with a twist! The initial photo series started in the winter of 2020 when Melissa picked up a bird figurine at a thrift store with the intention of breaking it to use the pieces in an installation. But she couldn’t bring herself to break it. Instead, she added more well-worn ceramic birds to her collection and spent the grey days of January photographing them in front of antique wallpaper backdrops. That May, after Melissa’s mother passed away, the same week George Floyd was murdered just a few miles from her home, she inherited her mother’s collection of bird figurines. From selecting backdrops and arranging figurines, the project evolved to become a meditation on individual as well as collective grief. Showing chipped beaks, a missing eye, or a broken tail, the photographs in Birds are about the fragile things we love and treasure.

The Birds booklet accompanied Melissa’s September 2021 Rosalux exhibition. Through collaboration, the bird images were transformed into a fictional auction catalog. Writer Andy Sturdevant created an amusing fictional description of each bird, and Justin Allen designed the booklet as an auction catalog with a Mid-century Modern aesthetic. The 8.5"x11", 16-page, booklet was recently added to the Rosemary Furtak Artist Book Collection at the Walker Art Center.

Meanwhile, further south in Mankato, when the pandemic hit and stay at home orders went into effect, Areca Roe knew she would have to drastically alter her artistic practice. In May 2020, suddenly limited in what and whom she could photograph, she began a weekly practice of responding to stock photography companies’ prompts, making quick and strange images and videos at home or close by, using whatever props she had on hand, and herself and her family as models. The book Stock Pile contains photographs and video stills from Areca's project of the same name.

Areca has had a fascination for some time with stock photography, a genre defined by generic ubiquity and bland cheeriness. Stock photo images are meant to be semi-specific but multi-use, so they can be sold many times over. Stock photo sites put out briefs telling photographers what is going to be hot the next month or year. When curiosity prompted Areca to peruse the prompts coming out in March and April 2020, she noticed that the prompts synthesized certain trends in our culture and aspects of this unusual time in a commercially-filtered way. The briefs seemed frivolous during the events of 2020, but still managed to capture the zeitgeist. Areca took instructions from these prompts, but in a way that misinterprets them by taking them a bit too far or too literally. In many of the images she heightens the absurdity of the prompts or pulls out some fascinating aspect or phrase that deserves further reflection.

This artist monograph was designed by Kelly Munson and contains a foreword by Sheila Dickinson.

Stop by the Rosalux to pick up a copy of any of these featured publications. The books are also available at the Holiday Art Fair at the Anderson Center in Red Wing, MN, or you can order from the artists’ individual websites to have one shipped directly to you. Priscilla’s book will also be available through Printed Matter (online or in the Chelsea store in NYC).

Don't miss the launch event for Stock Pile and Dollars and Sense on Friday, December 3rd, 6:30-8:30PM. Areca and Priscilla will be hosting a Q&A at 7PM.

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