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Susan Lowdermilk ~ Eugene, Oregon


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Susan Lowdermilk: “I am a maker of these everyday objects, specifically books. I work in the genre of the book form to create objects that carry significance beyond their function. My artist books are limited editions, hand printed and hand bound. Our experience of reading books is increasingly changing from being physical and tactile to digital and virtual. I see my work as a counterpart to the flood of digitally created text and imagery that we see everyday. My movable books and work with optical toys like the zoetrope are meant to show movement that is transparent in its method but still create compelling visual illusions. My work is meant to be thought provoking and hopeful, mindful yet mysterious, posing open-ended questions.”

By Susan Lowdermilk, Donna Thomas, Peter Thomas, and Andie Thrams
California: 2022. Edition of 32.

Twelve artists’ books, an informational companion book, About HOPE?, and a vial of wildfire ash in a 13 x 8.5 x 7" wooden reliquary made by Taylor Millar, a woodworker from Lagunitas, California. Reliquary f repurposed Douglas fir and locally sourced coast redwood. Title, hand stamped on brass attached to the base of the structure. Paper label affixed inside the structure stating provenance. Materials: Handmade and commercial paper, brass, wood, wildfire charcoal and ash.

Processes: woodcut, linoleum cut, pressure print, photogram, letterpress, digital printing, watercolor, gouache, and ink painting. Books signed by their respective artists and numbered.

Artists project statement: "HOPE? is a collaborative art project created by Susan Lowdermilk, Donna Thomas, Peter Thomas, and Andie Thrams. Through field work in recently burned and green forests in Oregon and California, the artists investigated the complex topics of tree mortality, catastrophic wildfire, and climate change. They have created a wooden reliquary holding twelve artists' books, an informational companion book, About HOPE?, and a vial of wildfire ash to bear witness to the devastation of western forests, honor the importance of trees, and grapple with the question of hope at this pivotal moment in the Anthropocene epoch."

These four artists began their collaboration over dinner in 2019 during the CODEX Foundation Symposium and Book Fair in Richmond, California. At the 2019 Symposium the CODEX Foundation invited artists to create work addressing the global environmental crisis. These four decided to work together to create art regarding trees and forests. The pandemic delayed their project. During this time catastrophic fires near their homes shifted their focus “to investigate the impact of wildfire on western forests”.

Their research led them to the University of California Merced’s Yosemite Field Station in Wawona, California; to a California forest that had burned in the 2020 CZU Lightning Complex fire; and, Oregon’s McKenzie River Valley at H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest. They met with researchers, forest rangers, Forest Service scientists and photographer David Bayles. They worked together, camped together, talked together. “HOPE?” is the result of their research, their art, and their care for what is happening to our forests and trees.

About Hope? conclusion: “As we completed and documented our collaboration, we knew there would always be more to learn and understand about forest ecosystems. The project has shown us how our diverse strengths and working styles as artists mirror the complexities found in a healthy forest. We hope the ideas and images we have shared within our reliquary will encourage others to ponder what we have pondered, and likewise find reason to take action and have HOPE.”




Be Joyful
Handmade paper by Peter Thomas; Linoleum cut by Donna Thomas

“Today, in the face of information overload and misinformation, educating ourselves becomes all the more important — we need to dig deeply into the issues to understand what is really going on, to find hope, and to take action.”

Be Joyful book

Woodcut by Susan Lowdermilk

“I saw images of protestors carrying signs demanding climate justice from their leaders with messages similar to the quote I used by Boris Johnson. I thought about how leaders and the people must understand balance with nature to survive.”

Breathe book

Catastrophic Wildfire
Text by Peter Thomas
Photograms by Susan Lowdermilk, Donna Thomas, Andie Thrams Letterpress printed by Peter Thomas

“As our understanding of catastrophic wildfires and their connection to climate change expanded, our concerns increased. We see the catastrophic wildfires as only one signal that we need to mitigate climate change now.”

Catastrophic Wildfire book

Fire Followers
Handmade paper by Peter Thomas
Relief printed by Donna Thomas

“After a forest fire certain plants will bloom and these plants are called ‘fire followers.’ Finding these plants growing through the ash and among the blackened trunks brought us hope and delight.”


Fire Followers book

Hope Calls for Action
Designed and assembled by Peter and Donna Thomas

“As the flexagon is manipulated, the texts fluctuate from hopeful to dire and reflect the shifts in our feelings as we grappled with the possibility of a catastrophic future and our ability to mitigate the negative effects of climate change.”

Hope Calls for Action book

by Susan Lowdermilk, Peter Thomas, Andie Thrams
Pressure print images by Susan Lowdermilk

“Witnessing the obvious decline of the forest in the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia in Yosemite caused us to wonder what else will be threatened with extinction, and how that will affect the chain of life.”


Old Growth Matters
Text by Donna Thomas, Peter Thomas, Andie Thrams
Woodcuts by Susan Lowdermilk, Donna Thomas, Andie Thrams
Handmade paper by Peter Thomas

“The rich biodiversity of an ancient forest ecosystem takes centuries to evolve, provides habitat for innumerable species, sustains countless ecological processes essential to a healthy planet, and is therefore crucial to our survival.”

Old Growth matters book

Mass Unraveling
Imagery, printing, and design by Andie Thrams

“How much is our world unraveling? Are we capable of taking action to reverse, or just slow down, the downward spiral we may be within?”

Maas Unraveling book

Only What We Love
Text by Susan Lowdermilk
Letterpress printed by Donna Thomas
Accordion tree shape by Donna Thomas; Handmade paper by Peter Thomas

“To love a tree so much that one gives it a name can lead to protecting what is loved.”

Only What We Love book

Resilience (right)
Watercolor and gouache painting by Andie Thrams
Woodcuts by Susan Lowdermilk
Linoleum cut by Donna Thomas
Letterpress printed by Peter Thomas

“Clearly the earth has enough resilience to continue on no matter what humankind does, but forests don’t have that kind of resilience.”

Resilience (right) book

Vast Unseen Networks
Text by Susan Lowdermilk, Donna Thomas, Peter Thomas, Andie Thrams
Cover paper handmade by Peter Thomas
Woodcuts by Donna Thomas and Andie Thrams

“Through webs of underground fungi connecting tree roots to other plants, forest resources and information are shared. … We hope this book inspires interest in and admiration for the mysterious and diverse processes that help trees flourish.”

Vast Unseen Networks book

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
Text and images by Andie Thrams

“This book explores the overwhelming, destabilizing, and sometimes dark feelings that frequently arise with awareness of catastrophic wildfire, worldwide species extinction, habitat loss, and climate change.”

More details can be found in the “About Hope?” pamphlet.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot book

Power Play
By Susan Lowdermilk
Eugene, Oregon: Susan Lowdermilk, 2002. Edition of 35.

4 x 4” closed, six panel Jacob's ladder. Printed from woodcuts in black and grey. Protective slip on open ended wrapper. Images of rock, paper, and scissors appear in each panel with the background carved to imitate wood grain. Signed and numbered in white ink on the black painted inside of the slip-on wrapper.

Susan Lowdermilk: "Through my creative practice as a printmaker and a book artist, I represent inanimate objects and abstract marks as visual metaphors or allegories. I explore tenuous qualities of human interaction, struggles and experience. I explore the use of simple, forms such as 'X' and 'O,' symbolic for 'hugs and kisses' or 'tic-tac-toe.' I'm informed by familiar leisure games like 'Rock, Paper, Scissors,' to reference interpersonal communication."

Vicky Stewart: "This has been one of our favorites to show elementary school age children when showing artists' books. They love to watch the pages unfold and the hear the clapping sound as the pages hit each other. And, of course, they are all familiar with playing rock, paper, scissors."
$200 (7 copies remaining)

Power Play book
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Susan Lowdermilk SOLD Titles:  

memento mori
Text by William Shakespeare
By Susan Lowdermilk
Eugene, Oregon: Susan Lowdermilk, 2005. Edition of 12.

12.75 x 4.6"; eight panels. Printed on Stonehenge paper. An Indonesian palm leaf style construction with sewn thread binding. Black corrugated paper covers.

Quote from Shakespeare's "As You Like It" -

        It is ten o'clock:
                 Thus may we see
        how the world wags:
        'Tis but an hour ago,
                 since it was Nine;
                 and after an hour more,
        'twill be Eleven:
                 And so,
        from hour to hour,
                 we ripe and ripe,
        And then,
                 from hour to hour,
        we rot and rot,
                 And thereby
        hangs a Tale.


memento mori book
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Page last update: 08.08.2022


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