Lisa Nebenzahl, “The Chico Poems”


Lisa Nebenzahl
Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Chico Poems
16″ x 12″ x 1″

Artist Statement

The Chico Poems: Written in the 1940’s – Reawakened in 2021

The Chico Poems is a suite of eight poems contained in a custom designed case. This project was inspired by my late mother Chico Nebenzahl (1916-2000), who penned the poems in the early 1940’s. With the support of a McKnight Fellowship for Book Artists, the project took a year to produce as I employed the light of the sun to create the cyanotype prints in the spring, summer and fall of 2021. Letterpress and cyanotype printing come together to share these short, sometimes acerbic poems.

A posthumous collaboration with my mother, who wrote poetry and fiction in her in twenties in Chicago but never shared them widely, gave me a chance to bring these poems out of their long rest and into the light.

The unique limited edition is housed in a custom clamshell case covered in Japanese book cloth, foil stamped and designed by the artist and crafted by Keith Taylor. The cover features a tipped in to-scale photograph of the poet at her typewriter in 1942.

The eight poems are paired with 8 of my mother’s favorite vegetation and flowers, most of which I grew.

Twenty unique prints were produced of each 8 poems; all-in-all 160 entirely unique cyanotype prints were produced, and 15 portfolios.

Each print is hand printed, signed, titled, numbered, and gilded in silver on 2 sides.