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Ellen Sheffield~ Ohio

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Author image " Ellen Sheffield is a visual artist who explores the relationship between language, materiality and time through small-scale hand held objects: artist's books. … A graduate of Case Western Reserve University, the Cleveland Institute of Art and the Ohio State University's Moritz College of Law, Ellen teaches book arts at Kenyon where she collaborates with poets, musicians and artists in her Gambier studio, Unit IV Arts."


Geography of Lost
By Ellen Sheffield
Gambier, Ohio: Unit IV Arts, 2021. Edition of 18.

5.5" x 8.5" closed; 12 leaves interleaved. Unryu white paper and Strathmore tracing paper pages with Haijiro cover paper. Digital images and letterpress text on two overlapping pamphlet stitched signatures. Bound in a trifold cover. Laid in cover weight phase box with colophon tipped on bottom. Poem and book design by artist. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Ellen Sheffield: "The text in 'Geography of Lost' is a poem inspired by an article on 'Lost Person Behavior', the science of knowing where to search for someone based on which of 41 profiles applies. Implicit in my poem are hard things, feeling forlorn when contemplating a family history of depression, substance abuse, dementia, suicide and other mostly unseen manifestations of hopelessness. There are so many ways to be lost - the thesaurus entry lists over 60 words including disoriented and vanished. Pulling apart and fracturing my poem's lines set them adrift amid images of my aerial snow-covered landscapes photographed on a winter flight and overlaid with askew grids."

Scan the visual field - for virtual ink
fingerprints, fractured twigs – or formerly
found objects.

Once you open "Geography of Lost" the pages are turned left then right until the final page comes up which is the middle panel of the tri-fold cover. To close the book the pages are then interleaved in the reverse order. However, the text is such that the leaves can be interleaved in multiple ways thus creating different orders and versions of the text. By changing the order of the pages it becomes another view of being lost and adrift or that feeling of not quite knowing what path to take to find the one lost.

Geography of Lost book
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Slanting Light
Poem by Arthur Sze
Gambier, Ohio: [Unit IV Arts]. Edition of 6.

5.75" x 5.75"; 16 pages. Accordion structure with slanted pages. Inkjet printed on Masa paper. Acetone transfers. Slipped in Japanese folded envelope. Signed by the poet.

Ellen Sheffield: "Poet Arthur Sze’s lament on how one views the changing shadows in light of bad news seems particularly apt in this 'upside down' climate of alternative facts.

"The pages are folded slant so when the book is displayed open they are angled in different directions."

Slanting light casts onto a stucco wall
the shadows of upwardly zigzagging plum branches.

I can see the thinning of branches to the very twig. (9/14/21): "ARTHUR SZE’s poems, like those of the haiku masters he translated early in his career, almost always offer us an immediate impression--a clear image, a question to ponder, an emotional resonance--on first reading. But we also recognize there is much more to them. In their juxtaposition of deftly rendered images, vivid sensual detail, and subtle shifts in tone and perspective, Sze’s poems invite us to return time and again to savor them. Arthur Sze is the author of eight books of poetry, including The Ginkgo Light (2009), Quipu (2005), The Redshifting Web: Poems 1970-1998 (1998), and Archipelago (1995). Other collections by Sze include River River (1987), Dazzled (1982), Two Ravens (1976; revised, 1984), and The Willow Wind (1972; revised, 1981). He is also a celebrated translator from the Chinese, and released The Silk Dragon: Translations from the Chinese in 2001."

Slanting Light book
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Ellen Sheffield Out of Print Titles:
Cite/Site Specific
Evans v. Merriweather 4 OH 492 (1842)
By Ellen Sheffield
Gambier, Ohio: Unit IV Arts, 2001. One-of-a-Kind.

8 x 6"; 8 pages. Accordion. Transfers on Rives.

Ellen Sheffield: "Cite/Sight Specific is a concrete poem I wrote based on the briefing of an actual legal case about riparian (water) rights woven together with an accounting of Tibetan monks carrying the colored sand from a mandala they had created in the library at Kenyon College down the hill to pour as a blessing into the Kokosing River. As a law school student I spent three years briefing cases and often daydreamed about creating poetry from the visually rich legal language of property law – this artist book is one of many using legal language as found poetry."
Cite/Site Specific book
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Daylily Pollen Sampler
By Ellen Sheffield
Gambier, Ohio: Unit IV Arts, 2008. One-of-a-Kind.

7.25 x 6"; 22 pages. Double accordion structure, with two double-sided accordions (one side has photographs of day lilies, the opposite side has corresponding pollen samples) backed to each other with every other fold attached so that when pulled open the photographs can be seem on the inside of a collapsing/expanding 4-sided polygon.

Ellen Sheffield: "In the summer the gardens along Middle Path in our small village are a riot of color with every variety of day lily blooming. I photographed the lilies, and collected samples of pollen from each variety to use as pigment in this color sample artist book. I was a bit disappointed to find that the pollen was all the same shade of yellow, although I gave each sample its own distinct name. I was further dismayed to discover that the pollen evaporated and faded shortly after applying it to the stitched sampler pages. I gathered more pollen and 'fixed' it with beeswax (most likely a crime against nature) and transferred the daylily photos to the inside of the double accordion with mat medium."
Daylily Pollen Sampler book
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The Ages of Peonies
By Ellen Sheffield
Gambier, Ohio: Ellen Sheffield, 2018. Edition of 16.

9 x 6.375"; 24 pages. Text printed letterpress from polymer plates and wood types. Includes inkjet prints and letterpress on Rives paper. Bound in handmade Morgan cotton abaca paper over front board and bookcloth on back board with printed musical score in Miss Anderson's handwriting. Drum leaf binding. In paper four-flap cover with announcement of performance on March 11, 1930 printed on front. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Colophon: "Peony (Paeonia) bushes can live for a century. Mine was transplanted from my husband’s grandmother’s garden after her death. Grandma Bertha Hammonds was a so-called colored cleaning woman her entire life in our small town where Marian Anderson performed in 1930. So too were Ethel Reynolds, Gertrude Jones, Viola Booker, Mable Mayle, Anna Sites, and Midge McGee. Miss Anderson’s mother in Philadelphia also scrubbed floors to support her young daughters. This artist’s book is inspired by these women and their drive to bring beauty into their communities in the face of exclusion and racial prejudice.

"My thanks to Ric Sheffield and to Nancy Zafris for their research and writing about the colored women’s clubs and Marian Anderson. Studio support for this project was provided by the Morgan Art of Papermaking Conservatory and Educational Foundation Artist Residency Pro-gram ... Images are courtesy of the Shared Shelf Commons of Penn Library’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library Image Collection Marian Anderson Archives and the Knox County Black History Archive. Additional images include my photos of Mount Vernon, Ohio’s historic Woodward Opera House’s vintage wallpaper, and Grandma Hammond’s still blooming peonies. 'The Ages of Peonies' is my found poem constructed from newspaper accounts, historical research. Additional text includes the lyrics to the spiritual song 'Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child.'" (accessed 10/29/2018): "Marian Anderson (February 27,1897 – April 8, 1993) was an American singer…one of the most celebrated singers of the twentieth century. … Anderson became an important figure in the struggle for black artists to overcome racial prejudice in the United States during the mid-twentieth century. In 1939, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) refused permission for Anderson to sing to an integrated audience in Constitution Hall. … With the aid of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and her husband Franklin D. Roosevelt, Anderson performed a critically acclaimed open-air concert on Easter Sunday, April 9, 1939, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. before a crowd of more than 75,000 people."
(SOLD/Out of Print)

The Ages of Peonies book

The Ages of Peonies book
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Page last update: 10.16.2021


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