About the Work

About the Books

I came to book arts the long way around, through photography. 

This makes perfect sense to me; we photographers make a book-like form every time we assemble a portfolio or construct a wedding album. Pace, sequence and narrative are at the root of the product. But the one thing that has always bothered me about the completed portfolio or album is the lack of permission to touch the image, the paper it was printed on, the emulsion used. Heaven forbid we leave a fingerprint. 

Books, on the other hand, have no such taboo. They are designed to be held, carried and curled up with. They are intimate, transportable and tactile vessels of potential.

The books here are more fun and friendly than they are heavy and laden with meaning. They are explorations of material, structure and process with minimal content, born from the seduction of dimension and movement possible with an artist book. Photographs are usually flat, so to make something to hold, that moves and expands, is exciting. I am equally smitten with paper--the way it folds or doesn't, takes ink or not. Its weight, its drape, its color and texture. Tactile. Touch-able. Portable.


About the Photography

I am a documentarian and storyteller, an editorialist and voyeur. Photography is the constant that ties my past to my future. It is an action; a way of being and thinking that informs, distracts, consumes and enriches my experience of this life. It is a habit, a process so familiar that it sometimes feels like muscle memory. I push the shutter to document, to collect with clarity and accuracy the moments and things that will be transformed by time, memory and sentimentality. Often, my images strike me as visual metaphors of where I was emotionally when I physically made the image.

While I have finally come kicking and screaming to embrace technology, I still fear its betrayal. Everything reduced to code and numbers, algorithms intangible in my non-math head, latent and invisible without a device. In my typical photo-purist manner I frowned upon mobile photography, just as I have frowned upon all preceding digital image-making formats until I was obligated to use them. In May 2011 I bought an iPhone 4 and quickly dismissed its camera, using it only when I was without a "proper" camera. Months later my perspective shifted after seeing the creative possibilities of mobile photography on Instagram. Curious and inspired, I finally began exploring the iPhone's potential as a camera. Now it is my most often used camera; the one that I always have with me.

 

Why Manhole Covers?

First, they are ordinary and mundane, urban and suburban artifacts. They offer a glimpse into the past and speak of the present. Tugging at my interest in material culture, they also feed my obsessive photographic gathering of like objects. They record time, transformed by trucks and tires and messy road crews. They are icons of industry and logos of past and present companies, artifacts of commerce and invention. They are markers, mandalas and oversized coins. They are diverse and beautiful and serve a range of purposes. They are the same yet different. They are the thresholds to the industrial nether world that lurks beneath our feet.

 

I see these iron discs as doorways to the subconscious, opened only by experts in the field of personal awareness and enlightenment. I also read them as metaphors of bodily function: Water, Gas and Steam. They scream at me telling me where I am and what I need to do: City and Communication. They remind me to pay the electric and telephone bills. And they make me aware of the simple fact that water, gas, electric, steam and telecommunications come from somewhere, they do not simply appear, it is not magic. I also see them as metaphors for the individual in society; jostled by pedestrians, moved by cars and pelted with various sundry deposits of litterbugs, the individual, like the manhole cover, is invisible in society. We/they come in various shapes and sizes, gleaming and embellished, similar yet different with something unique to offer.

 

About the Facsimiles

Elena's knowledge of conservation practices combined with her digital imaging skills have made her an asset to museums and libraries seeking book, print and ephemera facsimiles for research and display purposes. Merging modern digital output with traditional art practices, Elena is capable of producing accurate and functional copies of your books and ephemera. Working from your digital scans and detailed information about paper stock, weight, age and condition, she can determine the best modern paper stock and digital output parameters to produce the best looking facsimile you will ever see. No more embarrassing xerox's, disarming your alarmed display cases or tedious page turning.