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“Nature at its Most Fragile”

Ghost Trees and Reliquary are both an artistic collaboration between poet and Louisiana native Martha Serpas and printmaker Michelle Burgess at Brighton Press. Both books are part of Michele Burgess’s ongoing collaborative series; “The Stratigraphic Archives.” Burgess describes this series as an exploration of the processes, forms, and markings that reflect the patterns, gestures, and atmospheres of both quiet and cataclysmic events. She is interested in the relationship of these events to the human condition and the conditions of nature at its most fragile. She explores the concepts of palimpsest, time and gesture, erasure and repair. Working in collaboration with other artists and poets, she seeks to combine human history and natural history, bringing these themes together in an essential way, working with ideas inspired by places such as churches and reliquaries, geological sites, art museums, personal memory, natural history museums, riverbeds and ocean floors, and library rare book rooms. Martha Serpas’ view of the books is that both translate the feeling of the elements at work. 

“I am imagining one of these books, its pages flipping as if wind-tossed, as an experience of the wind as passionate with a double effect—cleansing and destructive.” [https://www.brightonpress.net/our-collaborators ]

The first volume of the series, Repair [Presses B766bur] is available in Rauner Special Collection as is the fourth, A Torn Web: 16 Poems [Presses B766stto]

Reliquary [Art Special Collection, PS3619.E77 R46 2016] is the first collaboration between Michele Burgess and Martha Serpas and is volume nine in the Stratigraphic Archive. The poems are focused on Louisiana where her hometown of Galliano is disappearing into the Gulf of Mexico due to coastal erosion and rising seawaters. Burgess's etchings are concerned with the disappearance of the languages and patterns of nature.    The etchings are "ghost" printings on Twinrocker paper collaged with torn fragments from the first impression of the print on Gampi paper making each edition unique. Each volume is bound in cloth and leather by Claudia Cohen and housed in a clamshell box made by Sonja Jones. The poem was handset in Perpetua and printed letterpress by Nelle Martin.

Ghost trees [Art Special Collection N7433.4.B865 G5 2017] is the second collaboration between Michelle Burgess and Martha Serpa and is volume ten of the Stratigraphic Archive This volume also combines the poetry of Martha Serpas with 23 drypoints and 2 etchings by Michele Burgess.  The poem first appeared in The Dirty Side of the Storm and was reprinted with permission for this edition. The drypoints were printed by hand from copper plates and were hand colored on Echizen Shikibu Gampi paper by the artist. This edition includes one of the copper plates, bound into the clamshell box by Mark Tomlinson. The text was handset in Perpetua and printed letterpress by Nelle Martin.

These books will be on display in the Sherman Art Library August 13 - December 2, 2019

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