Manifest,O began with a question. I wondered if I could visually interpret an aural experience: that of losing most of my hearing. Could I make a book that would allow you to see what it’s like to have only muffled, indistinct, confusing sound, to rely on reading lips? What would it look like?
The paper is semi-translucent abaca, ‘printed’ as the sheets were formed. Sentences and paragraphs are composed of holes in place of letters: the words have all dropped out of the pages. Each sheet was stained in dull tones to recall aged parchment, and to signify inconsistent, homogeneous sound. Illustrated pages, views of mouths making the shapes of speech, or expressing different emotions are interspersed with full pages of text-holes, through which the drawings can be partially seen. The cover boards and spine are cast kozo. The boards are covered in Pergamena transparent vellum, which reveals the restless patterns of the fiber beneath, like so much obfuscating background noise.
Melissa Jay Craig lives in Chicago. She taught at Artists’ Book Works, the Newberry Library, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Loyola University before becoming a member of the team of artists who created the Columbia College Chicago Center for Book and Paper Arts and its Interdisciplinary MFA program She was the full-time teaching Artist-In Residence there from 1994 until 2009. Currently, Melissa is a visiting artist at select universities and arts centers throughout the U.S. each year. Her work has been exhibited internationally; she is represented in the Chicago area by ZIA Gallery. Melissa has been awarded numerous grants and residencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts studio residency in papermaking at Women’s Studio Workshop. Recently, she was named Distinguished Resident at the Ragdale Foundation and her wordless sculptural books have been featured in Fine Books and Collections and a number of literary publications, including the Paris Review.