Letterpress

Metal type
Wood type
Edition 10
Factory Stories is a series of prints produced during a residency at The Penland School of Craft. It feature narratives by female factory workers employed in the textile industry in the area of Southeastern Europe. My source was “Women and Industry in the Balkans: The Rise and Fall of the Yugoslav Textile Sector” by Chiara Bonfiglioli.

Having grown in a city with a major textile industry, and witnessing the changes during and following the war of the 1990’s, I wanted to capture experiences of work as well as the mundane moments in women’s lives. I would set one story at a time in metal type, one letter at a time, print it multiple times and then take the letters apart to construct the next story and print it by hand. In this way the process of construction is literally embedded in the work

I see the prints as mechanisms that reflect hidden narratives. I play with the idea of memorializing and even monumentalizing meaning, questioning the relationship between private memories and collective remembrances. The narratives serve as testimonies to collective actions that enabled the building of the factory infrastructure in impoverished areas, and  the subsequent marginalization of workers after the privatization of national factories. They also document life circumstances and the overwhelming challenges faced by women working in the context of organized labor, as well as their resiliency.

When completed, I realized the creation of the prints took over 70 hours of labor. Since I didn’t have enough letters to set the entire text, I had to set individual sentences, then return to the table and redistribute the letters in order to make  new paragraphs. I found myself like Penelope in The Odyssey, weaving words and then unweaving language at the end of the day. The resulting prints bear the marks of letterpress-printed work, slightly embossed letterforms bite into the paper and interlock to create abstract fields of text, accented by gestural forms that are printed using printer’s rules. Each print was produced in an identical edition of 10.

2020