Susan Wolf, “Taken”


Susan Wolf
Berkeley, California

Paper and fabric book
22″ x 6″ x 1/2″

Artist Statement

George Floyd was murdered by police while I was at a weeklong printmaking residency. It was hard to think about much of anything but the truth and how I was complicit. I needed a process, a durational practice to think and feel while keeping my hands busy.

I began with inking up and rolling out a deep shade of gray and placing a page over the surface. I sat at a table, taking the time necessary for narrow and wide lines and the spaces between them. Each page had its own tool. Some were thin and narrow, others were colorful. The shade of gray (darker to lighter) and the tool changed with each page. Parallel lines drawn lifting ink from below. Using the practice of trace monotype as a durational practice.

Back in my sun porch studio at home I painted Kakishibu over the surface of each page on one side. Kakishibu is fermented tannin juice from unripe persimmon. It is traditionally used to waterproof, insect-proof and strengthen paper. One characteristic that I was particularly interested in was that it looks like blood and the color darkens over time. Applied slopply. Once dry, rough patches were sanded smooth.

Once dry I realized that each page needed to be deconstructed and reassembled. The shade of the ink and the color of the tool felt just as important as the painted page. For reassembly I used machine

How to hold the pages, to collect the pages: Returning to the same printmaking residency a year later I thought to experiment with the foil press for some limited text within the pages of TAKEN. A coptic binding would allow the long narrow pages to lie flat. I learned how to do each. It required several needles navigating the space beyond the edges. It required a focus that for me resulted in a janky edge that I’m absolutely okay with.

The cover needed to be something other than a hard surface. I have recently been experimenting with natural dyes. I had collected oak acorns and had made a potion. Among a collection of other fibers I also soaked the shirt my Dad had worn to his wedding. The book cover to TAKEN is a shroud. A shroud stitched from this formal shirt of my Dad who passed away in 1994.