Common Thread

By Chandler O'Leary / Jessica Spring Tacoma, Washington: Anagram Press / Springtide Press, 2014.
Edition of 145.

10 x 18"; single-sheet broadside. Printed letterpress on archival 100% rag (cotton) paper. Handset wood type. Illustrated by Chandler O'Leary. Printed by Jessica Spring. Signed and numbered by the artists.

Chandler O'Leary: "This piece is a collaboration between Chandler O'Leary of Anagram Press and Jessica Spring of Springtide Press, created in memory of the victims of both the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and the Holocaust of World War II.

"As seems to happen on a regular basis, religion and extremism are in the news again. The first instance, the recent violence in France, is a horribly fresh reminder of what we brace for every day in modern society. The second is the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz in January—which, when paired with the terrorist acts in Paris, underscores the importance of learning from our past.

"In another example of history made new again, the world has only recently discovered the incredible story of a young girl whose faith and diary carried her through one of the darkest times in human history. It is this story that we set out to tell with our 21st Dead Feminist broadside, 'Common Threads.'

"The piece is a winter garden of pale pastels and subtle metallic golds. The delicate colors and shining metallic ink (which includes real gold in the formula) represent the fragility and preciousness of life among the thorns of war and persecution. The floral motif echoes themes from Rywka's diary, and stands for the resilience of the Jewish people—whose culture has flourished beautifully despite some of the worst trials endured by humankind.

"The overall design of the broadside is based on Rywka's dual cultural heritage. The border is reminiscent of Jewish embroidered challah covers and sabbath cloths, while the style of floral illustration is derived from Polish folk florals. The stitched lines are a nod to Rywka's trade as seamstress, which she viewed optimistically as a way to move forward and make a living in a future beyond wartime.

Colophon: "Rywka Lipszyc (1929 – 1945?) kept a diary from October 1943 to April 1944, while living in Poland’s Lódz ghetto. Discovered by a Russian doctor in the crematoria remains at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the diary was published in 2014, sharing Rywka’s amazing story with the world. Her parents and three siblings perished in Nazi ghettos and killing centers. Despite horrible living conditions Rywka survived, working in the ghetto’s clothing and linen workshop, learning to sew, organizing a library, and attending classes. Her diary ends abruptly, but records reveal she was deported to Auschwitz, then liberated to a field hospital after the war’s end. No further trace of her has been found, but Rywka’s words survive, a reminder of her incredible faith despite all odds — and her dream of becoming a writer fulfilled."