MAKING CHANGE artists for change

MAKING CHANGE artists for change


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Interview with Shawn P. Wilbur of Corvus Editions

[Above: "Helen Keller Bottlecap Pin" by Corvus Editions]

The MAKING CHANGE Etsy team is for artists committed to activism. Please tell us what issues are important to you.

Liberty, environmental and social sustainability, and teaching the history of those ideas. I'm a mutualist anarchist, but my cultural work covers a lot more ground than that.

How is the idea of activism apparent in your art?

My work is essentially educational. I worked for years as a bookseller and university instructor, and then that work went away with the changes in the economy. So I've found other means to at least try to keep doing that same work. The works that I publish and the images that I use in my art are all drawn from my researches into radical history. In some cases I've drawn book-design elements from radical presses of the past.

I try to use recycled or repurposed material for almost everything. Most of the paper I use is produced from farm-waste. My books are nearly all covered either with wall-covering, upholstery samples or paper I've made at home from junk mail and scraps. It's a constant learning experience, working with scrap material, and I try to share as much as I can of what I learn.

[Left: " E. Douglas Fawcett, Hartmann the Anarchist - 1893"
by Corvus Editions]

Do you think political and environmental issues can be effectively addressed in art?

Yes. Of course. There are so many examples of powerful political art. There's a lot that art can't do, in terms of addressing very specific issues, but many of those issues can be addressed by artists and other cultural workers. I find that I'm increasingly foregrounding the scrap elements in my work, and highlighting the seams so that people can see what can be done with material that was essentially waste, and maybe see enough to try it themselves.

Which artists do you admire who have an activist agenda?

The Just Seeds group, the Beehive Collective.

Tell us something about your process of creating.

[Right: "Voltairine de Cleyre - Germinal - framed poem and pictures of Angiolillo" by Corvus Editions]

I start with historical research, and collect texts and images. Some of the things that I collect sort of push themselves forward, generally because they seem to have something important to say in the present context. I have a general aesthetic, roughly neo-19th-century, to complement the sources, and a bit primitive, which is partly a matter of letting the seams show and partly me playing to my personal strengths. I try to make everything I put together sturdy, and obviously so, so that people will be less hesitant to pick things up and use them. For the most part, I print text and images in black and white and add color by hand, so each item is at least a little different from the others. I tend to work fairly quickly once I'm really producing items, but I do a lot of experimenting in the early stages of each project. A test book-binding may end up riding around in my satchel for a month before I decide it's durable enough to run with.

What is the name of your etsy shop? CorvusEditions

1 comment:

  1. Great work! I think it's so important for modern people, especially Americans, to take a hard look at their "trash" and figure out how to reduce, repurpose and refashion it to extend its life. I mostly do bottle caps harvested from friends and local restaurants but I'll be working on something new soon...brainstorming time. :)