by Avianna Wooten, UCLA History Major and Student Staff Member at the Clark
The Clark has recently added Diane Jacobs’s NOURISH, All our Relations to its Fine Press Collection. Nourish is an unbound artist book comprising eight twice-folded folios, built-in sculptures, and a collapsible bamboo box for housing. The book was created through a meticulous process of juxtaposing different mediums and investigating color.
Jacobs uses a combination of gampi paper, wool felt, cast paper pulp, and porcelain to intertwine scenes of nature with human traditions. The illustrations in the folios were made after enduring over 100 runs through the Vandercook letterpress. Jacobs mapped out fifteen different multi-color reduction relief prints, and experimented with layered images on transparent paper. This experimentation in medium and color resulted in striking visual representations like a flight of birds beating against a layered skyline or the wool felt interior cover with a cast paper pulp spoon attached. By rendering both the natural and manufactured as equally eloquent, Nourish venerates the connectivity between humanity and nature while avoiding privileging one subject over the other.
Jacobs’s experience at Opal Creek drove her to create Nourish in an effort to showcase the divinity of both the natural and created world. The wood of the book’s box is beautifully handcrafted and pays homage to the strength, integrity, and vitality of the tree trunk. The request to “NOURISH” is delicately carved into the bamboo, and before one can ever see the book they must undermine the integrity of the box. As the bamboo collapses and flattens to reveal the art inside, the viewer is reminded of the fragility of all life even within the sturdiest of structures.
The initial call to “NOURISH” acquires a sense of urgency after the box unfolds and the lid is revealed. Within the bamboo lid there is a hollowed triangle where a cast porcelain turkey wishbone is adhered. The tradition of the wishbone involves a person making a wish then breaking the bone; however, this wishbone is still intact. The unbroken wishbone implies that the call to “Nourish” is a request yet to see fruition. Jacobs explains that she wants to celebrate the magnificence of nature and human creation but “beneath this beauty lies environmental catastrophe; dying bee colonies; lack of safe drinking water; increasing oceanic garbage…time is ticking…”