In Praise of Print

15 Mar

Elements from "Bit Map," by Jessica Spring. Paper circlets are imprinted with vintage elements known as "printer's flowers."

St. Bartholomew is known as the patron saint of bookbinders. In Tacoma, a town with an unusual number of fine letterpress artists, Jessica Spring may be seen as the Patroness of Paper Artists for co-founding the popular, annual printmakers’ festival, Wayzgoose (named after a medieval guild celebration that took place on – surprise! – St. Bartholomew’s Day).

The founder of locally-based Springtide Press, Spring creates her own exquisite style of art using vintage foundry type, printing presses and bindery equipment, much of it more than a century old. But she brings a clean, modern sensibility to a body of work that, on the surface, appears nostalgic because of the tactile richness of its imprinted images, and the use of luxurious papers that exalt the printed word.

"Parts Unknown" transports viewers back to the 1890s.

Take Bit Map, an installation for Spaceworks Tacoma opening March 17 at the Woolworth Building. This work resembles a curtain of hundreds of floating paper circlets, each composed with multiple graphic elements. Each circlet is letterpress printed on one side with vintage images known as “printer’s flowers” or “ornaments”; the reverse is embellished with end papers taken from antique children’s books. As the strands of circlets twist and turn, they create a spinning narrative of story and image, color and texture. While densely encoded with information from days past, Spring notes that as a whole, Bit Map should be read “like a constant flow of data composed of binary zeroes and ones, potential chaos controlled by pattern.” This art of “nostalgic touch points” is not as innocent as it looks.

Mixed message: printed words on braille by Jessica Spring

“There’s a tension there, no doubt,” she says. “I’m grabbing the last century as hard as I can, and it’s slipping away. There’s also some design tension – mixing ornate Victorian ornaments with polka dots and bright colors…It’s also unavoidable to mention all the discussion around the end of the printed book. So here’s a response, a memorial.” Springtide Press produces small, finely-crafted editions of artist books, broadsides and ephemera incorporating letterpress and handmade papers. Check out the (ultra) fine print at http://www.springtidepress.com. Bit Map, at the Woolworth Building, 11th & Broadway, March 17 through July 1.

6 Responses to “In Praise of Print”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Spaceworks Spring Opening, April 21, 5-7p.m. « - April 19, 2011

    […] Building (11th & Broadway) is ablaze with thought provoking, new installations: Amy Oates, Jessica Spring and Holly Senn are very different artists who all work in the paper medium (cut, printed and […]

  2. Jessica Spring Wins 2011 GTCF Award « - June 14, 2011

    […] Greater Tacoma Community Foundation (GTCF) has announced Jessica Spring as the recipient of its 2011 Foundation of Art Award. The $7,500 prize recognizes Spring’s […]

  3. Wayzgoose and Tacoma’s Printmaking Delirium « - June 15, 2011

    […] (after a medieval guild celebration) is an annual event (co-founded by award-winning local artist, Jessica Spring) held at King’s. sweet pea Flaherty takes the wheel at Wayzgoose. Photo: Aaron […]

  4. Wayzgoose and Tacoma’s Printmaking Delirium « Tacoma Arts - July 14, 2011

    […] (after a medieval guild celebration) is an annual event (co-founded by award-winning local artist, Jessica Spring) held at King’s. Flaherty takes the wheel at Wayzgoose. Photo: Aaron […]

  5. Jessica Spring Wins 2011 GTCF Award « Tacoma Arts - August 5, 2011

    […] Greater Tacoma Community Foundation (GTCF) has announced Jessica Spring as the recipient of its 2011 Foundation of Art Award. The $7,500 prize recognizes Spring’s […]

  6. Spaceworks Artists in the News – Tasty! « - September 24, 2012

    […] Jessica Spring is an artist’s artist: she joins consummate craftsmanship as a printmaker with a wickedly humorous, literary sensibility. Her work is in numerous collections including that of the British Museum. “I’m taking off teaching this fall to finish up several new books,” she says. With Chandler O’Leary (below), an artist with whom she frequently collaborates, Spring is making a gift of a limited-edition print, Prop Cake, part of their Dead Feminists series. […]

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