Helga Jennifer Willa Julee Rachel
By Judy Byron
Washington DC: 2005. Edition of 35.
6 x 11.5 x 1.75" linen covered envelope fold box with interior black paper wrap to hold five books laid in. Each book uses handmade paper, sewing machine stitching, letterpress and inkjet printing, with paper cutouts. Each signed by the artist and housed in a book sleeve matched to a color of eye shadow that corresponded to each woman’s personality. Dieu Donne Papermill produced the 100% cotton handmade papers.
An exploration of how personal choices of fashion, color, and makeup reflect the woman.
Judy Byron: "Each of these books was inspired by my drawing series 'WHERE I LIVE: Exploring Identity through Bodies and Clothes’ [that incorporates] childhood reveries with paper dolls, sewing cards, and things homemade...
"Each book incorporates reproductions of a drawing of a favorite outfit worn by the subject as an expression of personal identity and a drawing of the subject's silhouette. The subjects' signatures provide the title. Their personal writings have been transcribed and typeset as compositional elements.
"The color palettes for each book are based upon specific blush powders, pressed powders and eye shadows matched to each woman and her particular outfit."
Judy Byron on the "Where I Live: Exploring Identity through Bodies and Clothes' drawing series:
After years of expressing and defining my artistic voice through community and public art commissions, I have created thirteen new studio works on paper. These works continue my exploration of identity by focusing upon clothing and body language and connect my history with drawing to a childhood fascination with paper dolls.
To date, fourteen women aged 6–94 from an array of racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds have acted as my models. With each model, I began by photographing her at home; asking her to wear clothing that she particularly enjoyed wearing and that expressed something about her self. Later, after completing a color pencil drawing based on the photos, I invited each woman back to the studio to write on the back of her drawing with the understanding that it may or may not ever be seen. The drawing was then soaked in a mix of water and paper sizing, pinned to the model, shaped to her figure and dried. Since the linen paper (produced by Dieu Donne Papermill) shrinks 10% after wetting, the process resulted in a softly cast shape referencing the posed figure. Hand sewing and notions were sometimes added.
As companions to the clothing drawings, I have created silhouette images of each woman in her original pose. The silhouettes were rendered on large sheets of Arches paper with color built up through surface priming, and augmented by the artist's notations and marks made simultaneously with the drawing of the clothing. Covered with charcoal and fixed, the paper was then sanded lightly to reveal bits of the undersurface. The outline was further enhanced through the use of a leather punch to create a pattern of holes along the silhouette and allowing light to pass through. While alluding to the inner and outer life of each person, the patterned holes also relate to a childhood reverie with sewing cards. The reverse side of each silhouette sheet was surfaced with a combination of ground sidewalk chalk, pressed face powder and blush. A simple statement excerpted from personal transcriptions stands against this color ground.
Five artist books were also created. HELGA, JENNIFER, WILLA, JULEE, and RACHEL were each inspired by the larger works
Deluxe edition with five books in box. $2,300
Individual books of either Helga, Jennifer, Willa, Julee, or Rachel in paper book sleeve. $500