AAS staff and fellows recently got a remarkable lesson in printmaking by Annie Bissett, who was in residence as a Jay and Deborah Last Creative Artist Fellow. Annie led a fellow’s talk one evening after the library closed, during which she shared some of her previous works and then conducted a demonstration in printmaking. She generously allowed participants to try their hand at creating an impression from one of her Chinese style woodblock prints. Everyone soon got into the act, creating multicolored images of a sailing ship!
Annie Bissett has exhibited throughout the United States and her work is in the collections of the Yale University Art Gallery, the Portland Museum of Art, Hood Museum of Art, Mortimer Rare Book Room at Smith College, and the Boston Public Library, among others. She has created two projects that include both a series of prints and accompanying artist books. These projects are entitled “We Are Pilgrims,” a series of woodblock prints about the early settlers of Massachusetts, and “Loaded,” a group of prints about money. She often appropriates historical imagery and texts into her elegantly and beautifully designed prints. To learn more about her work visit her website.
While here at AAS, Annie conducted research for a project about the spirituality/religiosity of American national identity. She scoured the Society’s collections of children’s literature, primers, almanacs (including several almanac diaries), type specimen books, hymnals, and broadsides. As she wrote in her fellowship report, “Much of what I found exciting were book forms and conventions that I had never seen and that I think would be very interesting to recreate with contemporary content, such as: metamorphic pictures, almanacs (I can imagine using some of the almanac conventions to address climate change issues), the books called ‘Divine Emblems,’ a book type I found that presents trades and professions to a juvenile audience, and books of moral lessons and maxims.”