January 09, 2014

No Small Measure: A collaboration between poet Kathryn Hinds and artist and printer Talia Bromstad

No Small Measure is a collaborative portfolio of letterpress printed broadsides, which was organized by artist Margot Ecke, curator Beth Sale and poet Ezekiel Black. Fifteen poets have been paired with fifteen artists and each group was asked to create a letterpress printed broadside. The project was made possible with funding from the University of North Georgia Art Galleries with a generous grant from the Forsyth County Arts Alliance. Over the next several weeks, each collaborative team will be interviewed and asked about their experience working on the project.

Our fifth interview features artist and printer Talia Bromstad.

The poem is so quiet and lovely. There are several ways in which you could have taken your visual response. Rather than illustrate the poem, you kept things paired down. Did your choice of icon (the triangle) or your application of the typography fall into place first and how did this process inform the final design? Kathryn's poem is filled with visceral imagery that really came alive inside my head on my first reading. It didn't seem right to simply illustrate what I saw, especially since the quality of Kathryn's writing as well as the imagery it evokes is so ephemeral, no one image could capture it all. That realization led me to explore a minimal design, where the shape of the poem itself would convey a lilting lightness and airiness, the words becoming like the leaves I could imagine dancing across the ground in the wind. The triangle was something I began exploring immediately when I first read the poem, but it wasn't until I figured out the text that their style and setting came to be. Sometimes a designer chooses a typeface to give context to the poem; here, I wanted to avoid saddling the poem with the baggage of traditional typefaces (whether serif or sans, they all come with a history and association). So the one I chose, Strangelove, is within the handwritten family but the letters, while beautifully proportioned, are plain and uniform enough to recede, letting the poem do the speaking.



The triangle is a repeated image in your fine art work. What is the significance of this shape? Why have you used the triangle in this particular way for this piece? A theme that informs a lot of my work is the experience of being American, raised in the south by Canadians. My dual citizenships speak to a larger balance of identity and belonging, for which the Canada goose is a natural recurring symbol. Additionally, I've been spending a lot of my creative effort in the past year on quilting as opposed to printing. Here, the string of triangles comes from a traditional quilt block pattern called "Flying Geese." The connection between the quilt pattern, the mention of geese in Kathryn's poem, and my own identification with the symbolism of the goose led to the use of the triangle as a minimal element. I like the sense of movement in opposite directions the two strings of triangles give—like two people passing by one another—and I felt it was the perfect way to compliment the pensive melancholy of the poem. Whether the reader knows why I chose to use them or not, the basic shapes and pattern leave room for personal interpretation.

You approached this project with reserve (I believe because you have stepped away from the letterpress process for several months to focus on design). Has this project renewed your desire to work with ink and impression? It's true, I was worried that the time I've spent away from the press—and away from designing for the press—would be a stumbling block in the process for me. But when I read this poem, I knew it was the one. It was invigorating to get back to ink and paper, and I was pleased with how the divide between quilting and printing was bridged by design. I like to approach art less as simply a Designer or Printer or Quilter, and more as a Creative, communicating through whatever the most appropriate media may be at a given time.

For more information about Talia, please visit her website: http://taliabromstad.com

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