Tom Virgin, “Conversation Too (Convo2)”

Conversation Too (Convo2) is designed and printed by Tom Virgin. 25 pages are bound on an exposed tape binding with waxed linen thread. End sheets are Katazome paper. Book cloth covered boards are printed with the title, Convo2.

Title page with artwork from all three artists collaged together and printed as an archival inkjet print. Designed by Extra Virgin Press (Tom Virgin, proprietor), in the Helen M. Salzberg Resident Artist Residency at the Jaffe Center for Book Arts at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida in 2013/2014.

Artists and writers, “Hurricane” by Michael Hettich
Convo2 includes writing by South Florida writers and artists: John Dufresne, Michael Hettich and Yaddyra Peralta, Kari Snyder, Laura Tan and Tom Virgin, respectively. Each artist and writer is pictured on the page following the title page.

“Two Blocks” by Tom Virgin
Each of three artists has one natural spread in the book, including this work by Tom Virgin, “Two Blocks.” The relief print created for Michael Hettich’s prose poem, “The Hurricane,” was printed from a polymer plate on a Vandercook 4 Proof Press. The other images in this folio are also created by Virgin.

“House Hunting/Polk Street” by John Dufresne with “Weimaraner” by Kari Snyder
The book is letterpress printed with hand coloring by each individual artist, with Katazome folios collaged and hand stamped with page numbers.


Tom Virgin (Coconut Grove, FL)

Conversation Too (Convo2)
Letterpress printed with hand coloring, hand stamping, and collage. Kettle stitched onto tape, glued into double board bindings with katazome paper inside and book cloth on the outside.
Edition of 50
25 pages
Dimensions, open: 12.5 in x 18 in x 1 in
Dimensions, closed: 12.5 in x 9 in x 1 in

My practice consists of research, teaching, exhibition, fine press printing, and book arts in collections around the country. My research is centered around communities that are hospitable to artists, and seeks to engage conversation around community values. In South Florida I have created prints and books about shared natural resources, the people who share them, and fundamental needs in our lives. Twenty years of teaching in Title I Public Schools has kept me face to face with the children of my community, its greatest resource. The multicultural/multinational community that has raised these children shares its traditions, world views, history and concerns with me. It is this vantage point that informs my understanding of minorities. In South Florida, I am the minority.

Teaching has compelled me to make books about aspects of my upbringing that have given weight and breadth to my life, and grounded me. The people, places, and things that enter my books, pass along values imparted to me- fixed in time for study. Shelved with closed covers my books hold immutable values for new consumers: immigrants, students, children and grandchildren. The content in my books has included National Parks and Forests, schools/students, the recent housing crisis, as well as collaborations between artists. Each book offers a narrow band of our community filtered through the visual and literary arts.

A significant part of my research has come from engaging my host community in artist’s residencies and workshops each year since 2004. I have made repeat visits to Michigan, Indiana, Tennessee, Minnesota, Wyoming, Colorado, Oregon, Maryland, and New York. I have built relationships with book arts centers, galleries, local artists, and arts administrators in regions that have strong book arts communities. I bring South Florida artists and institutions to them, and also bring these artists/writers home to Miami. I have worked to support and grow the Book Arts scene in South Florida.

For the last few years my work has been informed by a range of collaboration, including: Broadsheets with al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here, John Cutrone and the Jaffe Center for Book Arts, Florida Atlantic University Library, Boca Raton, FL; Slumping and fusing glass books, with Gail Dahlberg Glass Studio, Red Wing, MN; Letterpress printing, with Scott King, Red Dragonfly Press, Red Wing, MN; SWEAT Broadsheet Collaboration, with over 100 artists/writers and the Jaffe Center for Book Arts, Florida Atlantic University Library, Boca Raton, FL; the Heartland Portfolio, with Robert Hedin, Director of the Anderson Center, Red Wing, MN; WAIL- Word and Image Lab at MDC Museum of Art + Design, Miami, FL.

In 2013 I founded Extra Virgin Press with the creation of two small literary chapbooks with writers at the Anderson Center in Red Wing, Minnesota. Conversation Too, a fine press edition of 50 handmade artist’s books, was designed, printed and bound by Extra Virgin Press at the the Anderson Center and the Jaffe Center for Book Arts with support from the Helen Salzberg Artist’s Residency Fellowship. I worked with visual artists Laura Tan and Kari Snyder, and writers John Dufresne, Michael Hettich, and Yaddyra Peralta. This book is in the collections of the University of Miami, Vanderbilt University, and the Jaffe Center for Book Arts. It has been exhibited at Abecedarian Gallery in Denver, Colorado, the Bienes Museum of the Modern Book in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, at the International Print Center NY and the Center for Book Arts in New York City.