About this piece:
This book and accompanying poem by Daryl Farmer references Mao Zedong’s 1958 campaign to eliminate China’s population of sparrows because they ate the rice on which the people depended for sustenance. The sparrows were poisoned and shot, their nests and eggs destroyed, nearly to extinction. Neglected was the fact that sparrows kept the locust population in check, and without sparrows the locusts drastically decreased the rice harvest, thereby causing thousands of Chinese to die of starvation.
The construction of the book’s panels and their images echo the multi-faceted historical event described poetically by Daryl Farmer. A vintage image of Chinese people shooting sparrows opens the sequence, with images of dead birds, swarms of locusts, Mao himself, and ultimately gruesome portraits of emaciated Chinese people to follow. Images, mounted on wings attached to the panels and within smaller book structures, all fold up and are stored within the larger book construction.
Because Einstein Once Said, If Honeybees Are Ever to Perish, We Humans Would Soon Follow by Daryl Farmer is used with the author’s permission. Farmer is the author of Bicycling beyond the Divide, which received a Barnes and Noble Discover Award and was a Colorado Book Award finalist, and Where We Land, a collection of short stories. His recent work has appeared in The Whitefish Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and Gingerbread House. He is an associate professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks where he is director of the creative writing program.
book board, paper, toner
About the artist:
Lives and works in Fairbanks, Alaska, United States
Margo Klass is a mixed media artist whose work includes artist books and sculptural box constructions. She has received awards from the Rasmuson Foundation, Alaska State Council on the Arts, and was Artist in Residence in Denali National Park. In 2015 she received the Governor’s Individual Artist Award. Her work is included in the Anchorage Museum, the University of Alaska Museum of the North in Fairbanks, the Pratt Museum in Homer, and other public and private collections. Publications include Double Moon – Constructions & Conversations with texts by Frank Soos.