About this piece:
The statement below was written by curator Aime Tullies for within the book:
“You are holding a chapter of a traveling literary journal. Eleven other chapters are spread out on train lines across the country, riding the rails for one week before they regroup. Each chapter is a collaboration between one writer and one printmaker and each tract is a unique piece of art. Feel free to make notes on the chapter: thoughts, where you’ve been, what you’ve seen on your journey, etc. Also, we’d love to see pictures of where you are in the world as you’re reading and traveling— tag #traintracts2019 on Instagram. You can also check that hashtag to see the other copies of your chapter, as well as the others, with different writers and different artists. Please be sure to drop this in the mail by February 22, 2019. Your chapter needs to get back in time for an exhibition at the Rio Gallery in Salt Lake City to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad. Thanks for playing.”
My chapter of Train Tracts consisted of a literary mother’s musings on pregnancy that compared the fetus to an unpredictable passenger on a train (inspired by a poem by Sylvia Plath that likens pregnancy to trains, rising bread, and “money in a purse”). Thus I created a multi-piece, organic and organ-like purse-book, and added my own instructions to readers to “open [the leather piece], untie the leather cord in the middle of the book, remove the book from the leather piece, and seal the book jacket closed. Then you can put the book in the mail. The leather and cord are yours to keep, repurpose, or give away.
The book’s colophon goes on to clarify that “This is copy __ of 23 of this tract, which was designed, printed, and bound by Rachel Melis within earshot of the Saint Cloud, Minnesota, Amtrak station. All copies of this book began their journey tied with a leather cord to a leather binding based on a portable, medieval girdle-book, which can be seen at #traintracts2019.”
paper, book cloth, leather, metal findings
About the artist:
Lives and works in St. Cloud, Minnesota, United States
Rachel Melis is an Associate Professor of Art at the College of Saint Benedict & Saint John’s University in Minnesota. She received her MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Rachel’s prints, books, and installations have been exhibited across the country and abroad. Her current work compares motherhood to natural cycles of carrying, caring, and letting go of control.