Artist Spotlight On Elysia Mann At Fort Gondo: 5 Questions

By Christopher Reilly
In Culture

Usually you can find Elysia Mann hovering over a book—except she’s not reading it, she’s making it. After graduating from Washington University with a BFA in printmaking, Mann co-founded All Along Press, where she publishes limited edition artist books that are themselves works of art.

Elysia Mann (Drawing on paper), 2012 Courtesy of the artist

Elysia Mann
(Drawing on paper), 2012
Courtesy of the artist

 

It makes sense that the same sensibilities that inhabit her printmaking also permeate her work as an artist. “Working in the form of the book, installation or two-dimensional print, I am interested in the experience of reading,” Mann says, and it’s a prominent theme in her current show, “And the War Was Barely Considered,” at Fort Gondo Compound for the Arts through August 17.

No stranger to Fort Gondo, Mann’s work has also been seen at Sheldon Art Galleries, City Museum, Art St. Louis and Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts in Nebraska City, where she was the artist in residence. She’s also received a Creative Stimulus Award from Critical Mass for the Visual Arts, among many other awards.

Elysia Mann (Drawing on paper), 2013 Courtesy of the artist

Elysia Mann
(Drawing on paper), 2013
Courtesy of the artist

We had a chance to speak with Mann about her current exhibit.

ALIVE: How would you describe your art?

MANN: Artists perform many roles—entertainer, advocate, interpreter, shaman—but it is the role of scribe that most inspires me. Historically, the scribe served not only to shape the appearance and function of language, but also to keep records of information for future generations. Like a scribe, I combine my interest in lettering, typography and linguistics with my desire to document, narrate, and preserve.

ALIVE: Do the works in the show adhere to a particular theme?

MANN: The concept for this body of work is the documentation of near memory, and the recounting of events and experience from the year 2012.

ALIVE: Pick one piece in the show and describe it: Inspiration/meaning/technique… whatever strikes you.

MANN: Probably my favorite pieces in the show are the series of small prints that are word lists. These were my first foray into solar-plate etching, and I had a lot of fun experimenting with the process. The images are based on playing chips for a word game and combine similar-sounding words by the implied rearranging of the coins or chips.

ALIVE: What are your plans following this show?

MANN: I keep a studio just a few blocks from my house, in the back of an old warehouse in Soulard. This is where I make my work and where I also do commission printing under the name All Along Press. My immediate plan is to solve the insulation issues before this next winter so that my inks will move. I have a lot of exciting projects in mind, and I don’t want to be restricted by the weather!

ALIVE: Has there been a defining moment in your career?

MANN: The best is still ahead of me!

Fort Gondo’s hours are 12pm-4pm Thursdays and Saturdays. Visit the Fort Gondo website for more information.

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