Ellen Sheffield, “Geography of Lost”



Ellen Sheffield
Gambier, Ohio

Geography of Lost
Unryu paper & Strathmore tracing paper pages with Haijiro cover paper. Digital images & letterpress text on two overlapping pamphlet stitched signatures in a trifold cover
5.75″w x 8.5″h (closed)

Artist Statement

The text in Geography of Lost is a poem written after reading an article on Lost Person Behavior, the science of knowing where to search for someone based on which of forty[1]one profiles applies. The profiles were developed from a huge database of statistics gathered by search and rescue teams engaged in more than two million hours of searching. Implicit in my poem are hard things, feeling forlorn when contemplating a family history of depression, substance abuse, dementia, suicide and other mostly unseen manifestations of hopelessness.

There are so many ways to be lost – the thesaurus entry lists over sixty words including disoriented and gone astray. Pulling apart and fracturing the lines of my poem set them adrift amid my images of aerial snow-covered landscapes photographed on a winter flight and overlaid with askew grids. The book’s structure of two overlapping signatures provides multiple reading paths as the viewer turns the pages left then right rearranging the triptychs always leading to the same concluding stanza, “the path now anywhere yet nowhere to be seen”. This artist’s book attempts to visualize experiences of being lost both in the world and to the world.