Title: Alphabet Ancestors.
Publication Date: 2011
Artist's book, consisting of three small hand-painted picture books of letters and symbols, and a fourth with a printed essay, all on Arches Text Wove paper painted with casein, a milk-based paint, each signed and dated by the artist / author, Cari Ferraro. Page size of each book: 5-1/8 x 3- 3/4 inches; 13pp. Size in case: 5-1/4 x4-1/4 x 1 inch. Bound: each individual book is hand-sewn into Cave paper in an accordion fold structure with beaded tassel on spine; each Cave paper decorated by the artist with a different figure or sign, all four books housed in a wrap- around case made of Mexican bark paper lined with deerskin suede and tied with a leather thong and a rock. When removed from wrap-around case, the books are structured to unfold to make a great circular case, as if looking into a deep well of the past. The pages are first painted in casein, a milk-based paint with roots in antiquity, the milk acting as a binder on the powdered pigments, thus evoking the soft, crumbling nature of cave walls. All the ancient marks and modern letters are hand-drawn and painted in acrylic and gouache, the marks appearing on the "inside" of the circle and the western letters on the outside. Each book shows six different Roman majuscule letters on the recto side as the page is unfolded, each letter similar in some way to the archaic mark next to it on the expanding "cave wall" which presents a series of ancient marks. Only 18 of our 26 Latin letters are represented, chosen only for their visual similarity to the ancient marks. The text book is printed on Arches Text Wove with modern digital fonts: Numa designed by Sumner Stone and Optima designed by Herman Zapf.Ms. Ferraro's text (the 4th book) tells us that ALPHABET ANCESTORS is an homage to our earliest human family, who painted animals, made patterns, and scribed notations on cave walls and later on pottery in the earliest settlements in Europe. Some of the marks date as far back as the caves in Western Europe at Chauvet 30,000 years ago. Others are more recent, only 5,000-7,000 years old: from the Vinca culture in the Danube region, the excavation at Catal Huyak in Turkey, or the great passage grave Newgrange in Ireland, or the Minoan culture on Crete. Each shows evidence of marks that are symbolic and thus meant to share information beyond a single lifetime. The impulse to create symbolic marks to capture an idea and fix it in time is as old as our oldest ancestors. Ms. Ferraro cites THE CIVILIZATION OF THE GODDESS (1991) BY Marija Gimbutas as influencing her work with its references to early marks, probably by women, on ritual vessels, alters, plaques and many small anthropomorphic sculptures, overwhelmingly female, indicating that early forms of writing could be based on something other than male-derived economic transactions. A beautiful series, intended to convey the magic of writing by a talented scribed who takes the reader / viewer from pre- historic cases to the glow of the computer screen. See an Image. Bookseller Inventory #
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