Artist Statement – Found Objects – Handmade Book
For a while I worked at the University of Georgia Main Library, which housed the Georgia Newspaper Project. Here papers from all across the state were microfilmed. Student workers often ran off copies of old articles and photos they liked. One day I found a photocopy of an ad for a 1970’s movie called “Convention Girls”. The tagline was “…know every trick in the book… anytime, anyplace, anyway. Convention girls know how to take care of a man… in the most unconventional ways.”
In the ad two topless women looked behind their backs at the camera. Written underneath was,
Notice: Community standards cannot be pre-determined in the making of a motion picture. Convention Girls is explicit in
its presentation. Therefore, those adults unaccustomed to seeing motion pictures of this nature should not attend.
Adm. $2.00 Wed. thru Sun.
$.99 special Mondays & Tuesdays.
No charge for children under 12.
Also, Games Girls Play (R)
Sun., Mon., Tues.
The Devils Rain & Virgin Witch
Carroll Drive-in Theatre
Bremen Hwy., Carrollton
Open 7:00 P.M.
Carrollton is my birthplace. As a child I would ride past the drive-in whenever going to church with my grandmother. All of those movies were before my time. I do remember “Rambo: First Blood Part II” being advertised on the marquee, but the drive-in closed before I actually saw any movies there.
One of my grandfathers wrote a column for the newspaper in Carrollton. I inherited a few printing blocks he saved when the paper relocated. My favorite is of a fan, but there are also printing blocks for Coca-Cola and one for Nehi Cola featuring a woman’s leg wearing a knee high stocking.
In graduate school at New Mexico State University I was assigned to clean and organize the letterpress studio. Among the lead and wood type were a number of printing blocks from newspapers advertisements. There were a few images for theaters and 1970’s B-movies that included taglines like, “Love… the difference between being a female and being a woman!” And “They caged their bodies but not their desires”. One ad showed a woman down on her knees. The other featured three scantily clad women trapped in a bamboo cage, one of which was the actress Pam Grier.
Seinfeld once talked about watching an ad for a soft drink while sitting home alone drinking that very same beverage. The people in the commercial were all riding over sand dunes in jeeps, playing volleyball on the beach with beautiful members of the opposite sex in skimpy swimsuits. Seinfeld looked at himself and his surroundings and thought, “Maybe I’m using too much ice.”
One of my friends said he never wanted to go to a strip club because it would just make him feel more alone.
I was amused by the use of sex in these advertisements to sell movie tickets or soft drinks you might buy at the concession stand. The logic basically being, “Are you a sexy woman? Do you want to be a sexy woman? Do you desire sexy women? Whatever your answer, drink Nehi.”
I started producing an edition of handmade books. The title “Found Objects” is a phrase often used in statements and descriptions by artists working with found materials. The printing blocks were found objects, but the word “objects” also refers to the sexually objectifying imagery used in these advertisements. It has been interesting watching the reactions to the book. Some women do not like the book because it includes images of scantily clad women, while some men like the book for the exact same reason.
Making the book has been one of many steps in my life to become less of a consumer and more of a producer. It also helped me understand how people’s desires are used to sell things that have nothing to do with those desires. Then there is also the concept of manufacturing desire; advertisements that make you want things you never previously wanted.
“Found Objects” is an eight-page, hardbound book featuring words and images printed on unbleached Arches paper. Handmade, cotton rag paper I produced myself at the University of Georgia’s Green Street Press is used for the end sheets and the front and back covers, which feature the letter pressed title and fan logo. The book exists in an edition of seven along with three artist’s proofs.
“Found Objects” is included in the rare book collection at Baylor University in Waco, Texas and the Blagg-Huey Library, Woman’s Collection, Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas.