Stephanie Copoulos Selle
Professor of Art, University of Wisconsin-Waukesha
My professional career as an artist began with printmaking. Later, I developed into a painter, and most recently, a bookmaker. Early on, I was interested in suites of prints, serial imagery, and narrative. It was a logical step to move from serial images alone into text and images combined. I began to make artist’s books in the 1990s, acquiring lead type and a press. My books are usually about the traveling or movement of characters, often women, and using this as a metaphor for life as a whole. The books avail themselves of many media, including woodcut, silkscreen, lithography, letterpress, and electronically produced images. Most recently I have been exploring images, pages, and text that actually move in the form of video books.
Narrative of the Expedition of Lola, a Suburban Girl, to Major League Baseball, Little League, and Softball.
3 volumes in case.
Waukesha, Citron Press, 2000.
The book in this exhibit was influenced by the three-volume narrative of Commodore Perry’s expedition to Japan. In the introduction, written in 1856, he states “…[we] will seek and write only truths.” A reader is quickly aware that there is little absolute truth in Perry’s books, since his research method was flawed by hearsay and his outsider’s perspective. Nevertheless, this is also what makes his narrative charming—the way the truths are recounted: some objectively, some naively, all with their peculiar cultural bias.
My book is also in three volumes. In it, a character named Lola uses Perry’s research methods to explore baseball, and Lola approaches baseball with as much surprise and naiveté as Perry in his observations of Japan. The actual form of the book is much smaller but similar in structure to Perry’s book. In both books the title page and chapter pages have the same design. The books have on-the-spot illustrations of what was observed. Some of the illustrations are hand-colored.
My book and Perry’s book are similar in content. Volume I is a travel log, explaining what happened in a chronological order. Volume II is a study of the implements used by the people who were studied. Volume III for Perry was a star guide used for navigation in that part of the world, but the baseball book looks at the stars of the game of baseball. Both sets of books have facts, opinions, and errors. Both sets discuss the weather, the people, and have happy and sad passages. However, the baseball book does not have the racial prejudice found in Perry’s book.