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Visual Edge: "Selected Druckworks" at Evergreen State College Gallery

Books and Projects by Johanna Drucker

Combo interior images by Johanna Drucker. Courtesy The Evergreen State College

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Johanna Drucker is known worldwide for her book art combining poetry, prose, visual art and innovative use of typography. The exhibition "Selected Druckworks: Books and Projects by Johanna Drucker" at The Evergreen State College is a smaller version of Drucker's 40-year retrospective exhibition, "Druckworks," which is currently touring the country. Included in the show are examples of Drucker's book art in cases and a number of books viewers can hold in their hands and read, and original drawings and prints from her many book art projects.

This is a fascinating exhibition, but not one that can be easily comprehended; a thorough appreciation takes considerable effort on the part of the viewer. I recommend planning on at least two hours in the gallery.

Much of Drucker's art takes the form of concrete poetry that can be seen as lyrical and, in some instances, darkly surrealistic. Many of the pieces interweave poetry with visual art, humor and hints of stories that cannot be fully or easily understood without some imagination on the part of the viewer.

As a typical example, the piece called "The History of The/My World" begins with "In the beginning was the world, nursed on the warm breast of chaos fast following a night of hard publicity. ..."

As another example, "Night Crawlies on the Web" is a tiny book, approximately four-by-five inches, which visitors can pick up and browse through. It is a nightmarish story with surrealistic illustrations including drawings of strange humans and monsters.

The proofs of linoleum cuts and drawings from "Testament of Women" are beautiful. The drawings of women are lyrical with free-flowing lines. The linoleum cuts are heavily contrasting images in black and white. Most of the female figures are emaciated. There is one that is like Picasso's portrait of Gertrude Stein if she had been on a crash diet.

This show is definitely worth a drive out to the Evergreen campus.

"SELECTED DRUCKWORKS: BOOKS AND PROJECTS BY JOHANNA DRUCKER," 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday, through Feb. 28, The Evergreen State College Gallery, 2700 Evergreen Parkway NW, Library 1st floor, Olympia, 360.867.5125

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