Michelle Maguire, “Salami Dreamin'”

a stack of books from the edition of 50

a spread from Salami Dreamin’

detail showing hand-sewn endbands, signature sewing, and prints

a spread from Salami Dreamin’

back pocket containing a bonus silkscreen-on-newsprint pamphlet – each one totally unique and a remnant of a day’s work in the print studio.

Salami Dreamin’
photo-lithography, silkscreen, letterpress
14.25 x 23.5″
14.25 x 11.75″

Artist Statement

I grew up in a family of loud Italian Americans. They drank, they ate plentiful amounts of pasta and cured meats, they went to mass, they gambled. The still-standing continue to make as much noise and have as good of a time as their creaky bones will allow. Originally from Castelluccio Valmaggiore in southern Italy (“the ankle of the boot made up of 768 families”), their parents came to the United States in the early 1900s, putting down roots in Canton, Ohio, and working hard to make better lives for themselves.

I entered the world in 1977 and was an immediate hit with this crew. My parents divorced when I was five, so I spent a lot of time with my maternal grandparents and their siblings while my mom and dad went to work. During nightly dinners at my grandparents’ house, I absorbed the sights and sounds of this beautiful cross-cultural, Italian-American hybrid. There was my grandpa’s usual dinner-party balancing act, grabbing whatever items available to him from the table. For this particular show, from bottom to top: salt-and-pepper shakers, a porcelain sugar packet holder, an empty Coors bottle, a dinner roll, one last salt shaker, a pizzelle. My grandma, her siblings, and their spouses whistling him on with great delight. Boisterous, headstrong, and robust, my older relatives made my childhood rich and colorful. I was dazzled by them. I remember nothing but good times while being raised by this village.

Even as a young person, I knew these people were a special bunch to observe, and as I’ve grown older I’ve realized just how entertaining they really were—and continue to be. That’s why for years now I’ve been traveling back and forth from Columbus, Ohio, to my hometown to visit and document one of them in particular, my Great-Aunt Doll. Now 85, Doll remains one of the funniest, straightest-shooting people alive. I love hanging out with her. Whether she’s cocooned in an afghan and hollering at the Cleveland Browns on her TV or declaring that she can “kill two coney dogs, no problem,” she has no intention of making anyone laugh, but everything she says and does leaves me wanting more.

I am deeply fond of those who move to the beat of their own drum. I strive to be more like them, but I am comparatively quiet and more reserved, so I take pictures, admiring these self-confident souls from behind the camera. My work as a photographer derives primarily from my upbringing, which has shaped my character and filtered the way I interpret the world. As for my documentation of Aunt Doll, it originated merely as a means to preserve the spirit of a woman from my favorite generation. But as the years have gone by, I realize my time with her has been an exercise in learning to listen and to be in the moment. Aunt Doll lives her life entirely in the present. My only aspiration is to honor her with this book.

Salami Dreamin’, a limited-edition artist’s book by Michelle Maguire, features eye-popping, hand-printed images of her blunt, funny, completely unimpressed Italian American Great-Aunt Doll, with colorful Aunt Doll anecdotes by Aaron Beck. Maguire and Beck are married and live in Columbus, Ohio.

Aunt Doll, age 85, has lived in Canton, Ohio, her entire life. She cusses, loves cured meats, knows more about the NFL than you do, plays strip mall slot machines with her vegetarian hairdresser of 42 years, isn’t trying to be funny but is, worships the sun from her concrete-slab patio, and frets about nothing except her beloved Italian bread packing on the pounds. Aunt Doll makes the most if it. The gist of her story: enjoy every chicken wing while you holler at the Cleveland Browns on your gigantic analog TV, because we aren’t here forever.

• Printed on Arches 88 mould-made paper using lithography and silkscreen printing techniques; and Stonehenge rag cotton paper using letterpress printing from polymer plates
• Limited to 50 numbered and signed copies signature-sewn bound into bonded leather over boards

Michelle Maguire
Columbus, Ohio