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Jen Bervin Book Learning

Jen Bervin Book Learning

BAG Lecture

January 22, 2009 | 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

BOOK LEARNING, a lecture by Jen Bervin, Thursday, Maps/Special Collection Classroom, Suzzallo/Allen Library Basement, Room B69, University of Washington, Seattle Campus

In this lecture, poet and visual artist Jen Bervin will discuss her work in artists' books and installation over the last ten years working with sewn structures and focusing on experimental texts.  Bervin’s books include The Desert (Granary Books, 2008), A Non-Breaking Space (Ugly Duckling 2005), Nets (UDP 2004) and Under What Is Not Under (Potes & Poets 2001). Her interdisciplinary work has been featured most recently in Esopus and Double Change. Bervin's large-scale sewn composites of Emily Dickinson's fascicle marks and other works have been exhibited in the US, Canada, and France. She has received fellowships in art and writing from the New York Foundation for the Arts, The MacDowell Colony, Centrum Arts, and The Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France. She is a contributing editor for jubilat and lives in New York.  See her website.

 Bervin describes herself, “I am an artist and poet, concentrating on artist books, visual poetry, and large-scale sewn works based on abstracted, layered perspectives of maps and writing. My projects often take years and years to complete, given the research involved, their ambitious scale, and Luddite modes of construction. My work reflects a larger consciousness of time; I choose subjects that have also been formed slowly (i.e., the longest American riverbed, Emily Dickinson's manuscripts) and make art based on them in a similarly expansive mode. In all this, there is a sense of a tiny individual in relation to vastness, grandiosity— hence the turn to finiteness — sewing, minute craft – monumental small labors to reconstruct the vast.”

 “Recently, I did a poetic erasure of John Van Dyke's The Desert (1901), sewing row by row, across 130 pages of Van Dyke's prose, to create a poem that formed its own elemental landscape and shared Van Dyke's poetic attention to visual phenomena. I used atmospheric fields of pale blue zigzag stitching to construct a poem “narrated by the air”—“so clear that one can see the breaks.” Each quietly monumental book in the edition of 40 was machine-sewn "readily as glaciers" with over five thousand yards of pale blue thread. Thinking of the artist James Turrell, for whom the poem was first composed for a reading at Roden Crater, I wrote: "The great get on with the least possible and suggest everything by light."

Presented by The Book Arts Guild and Special Collections Division, University of Washington Libraries