Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Karen Carcia had a plan. Aware that art worlds at the UICB make space for individual expression and opportunities for communal creativity, Carcia built into her latest letterpress project both ends of the Center’s philosophy. The UICB’s Associate Professor of Practice collaborated with Nikki Neems and friends at RSVP, Iowa City’s premier stationery store, to develop Sent. An interactive, mail-based project, Sent invites erasure and revision for a collective display of what language, letterforms, and the space between can inspire.
At once elegant and complex, Sent sent Carcia on an adventure. Glean sentences from four disparate years of local news reportage? Check. Diagram the sentences according to their grammatical patterns and lay out accordingly? Check. Handprint the sentence diagrams on blank postcards leaving plenty of space for addition and décor, mail them to a wide array of participants who are to remake their postcard canvases, instruct the recipient to send them back—postage included!—to RSVP for store window exhibition, and revisit the exhibit to shift its everchanging form? Check check check check check. If you are in the area, you can begin to see the glorious results at RSVP (140 Linn Street).
At once playful and subtly pointed, Sent also reminds its makers and audiences that we can change what we inherit. Carcia’s example to discuss the project comes from the Dick-and-Jane literacy primers of the mid-twentieth-century U.S., which told a partial story of social norms to generations of young readers. We can revise that script, Sent seems to tell us. So too, rewriting the received facts of news reportage affirms our ability to enter into public discourse and make a difference. Ideally, this sensibility also describes the Center for the Book’s teaching mission, empowering students to make their world anew through art and engagement.
With a light touch, Sent embodies much of what we stand for at the UICB: the rigors of play and possibilities for transformation, by way of careful attention to craft and community. To support such endeavors, the UICB seeks your help. We are nearing the end of UICB 2021, an exciting initiative to raise funds as part of a challenge grant from the Windgate Charitable Foundation. If we raise 2.5 million dollars by December 31, 2021, Windgate will match with a 2.5-million-dollar donation. And we are so close! Since launching in April 2020, we have raised 2.3 million dollars, thanks to all of you. We seek $200,000 in the next ten weeks! Can you help us? Please consider a gift to the Center to sustain its art worlds and creative community.

You can donate here and you can learn more about UICB 2021 here. Thank you!