AlieNation/SepaRation from Maureen Cummins


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Coptic-bound books, silkscreen-printed on Arches Cover.

AlieNation / SepaRation contains text from a series of interviews that Cummins conducted with four families who collaborated on the FPS project. She selected and collaged 48 excerpts to create the narrative arc. Cummins designed the book to give the reader a visceral sense of separation. While interacting with the book, readers experience how frustrating it can be when even the most ordinary tasks and routines, such as reading a book, become a challenge. Cummins hopes that the experience of the reader/viewer is in part one of dislocation, alienation, and separation and that this experience opens an empathetic space for reading the accounts shared by the individuals she interviewed.

The making of AlieNation / SepaRation spanned over a year and a half of work in five different locations: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Women’s Studio Workshop in Rosendale, New York; Penland School of Arts in Penland, North Carolina; One Cottage Street in Easthampton, Massachusetts, and the artist’s own studio in Mt. Tremper, New York. During Phase One of the printing stage, deeply saturated flats of color were hand-squeegeed onto blank sheets of Arches Cover White. Blocks of text were then surprinted over these color fields, a challenging process that required masterful registration. The edition was bound by Lisa Hersey in the Coptic style, a structure that draws directly upon an early Middle Eastern binding tradition. Each set of four books is housed in a handsome plexiglass slipcase fabricated by SmallCorps, with laser-etched titling by Sarah Pike.

You can read more about the work in Maureen’s prospectus.

This work was produced as part of the Friends, Peace, and Sanctuary project for Swarthmore College Rare Books Collection in 2018/2019 and exhibited at Swarthmore College McCabe Library and the Philadelphia Free Library - Parkway Central.

Photo Credits: Nancy Donskoj (Photos 1, 3, 10, & below); Ricky Yanas (Photos 4-7 at Parkway Central Free Library of Philadelphia); Husam Al-Obaidi (IG: @hussam_alobaidi)(Photos 8-9 at Swarthmore College McCabe Library).

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