What Baba Yaga Taught Me: Wisdom from the Wild Witch of the East
As I write this post, Sarah Horowitz is putting one of the many finishing touches on her artist’s book Baba Yaga: designing the end papers. She begins this process by choosing gorgeous red laid Ingres paper. Then she moves on: making an etching for pattern and texture. Once this last plate is ready, the Ingres sheets will be fed through her press. This is just one of the hundreds, probably thousands of steps, decisions, and design choices that this resolute book artist has joyously undertaken in her studio in Washington over the past year as Baba Yaga is melded into its final form. Baba Yaga will be published this fall, as a limited edition of 40 copies. We are pleased to host Sarah Horowitz, when she returns to the Valley, as her latest artist book is released, to launch the book fair this year.
You are invited to join us at the keynote address by book artist Sarah Horowitz
on Friday December 2nd 2022 at 4pm to launch the seventh edition of the
Northampton Antiquarian Book, Ephemera, and Book Arts Fair
in The Workroom / Theater at Northampton Community Arts Trust
at 33 Hawley Street, Northampton, MA 01060
"Baba Yaga recreates the Slavic folktale of a witch who lives in a house on chicken legs and flies in a mortar driven by a pestle, sweeping her tracks away with a broom. My favorite version is the one I was most familiar with as a child in which the girl escapes Baba Yaga with the aid of the cat who gives her a towel and a comb to throw on the ground behind her. They transform into a river and a dense forest preventing Baba Yaga from catching her," Horowitz says.
"I am melding the imaginary world of one of my favorite childhood stories with my botanical occupation. Plants weave through the etchings, guiding the story with their meanings- invasive, prickly and toxic plants begin the story with discord," she says
Horowitz continues, saying, "This book brings together my childhood interest in all kinds of folktales and fairy tales and myths with my family history. From my mother, a descendant of printers in Basel, I learned Swiss mountain tales and Grimms stories. My father’s family were Russian and Hungarian Jews who had immigrated to New York bringing with them their love of food and books. I don’t remember the first time I heard the story of Baba Yaga, but it is one that I’ve wanted to recapture for years."
This retelling of Baba Yaga was based on the folktale originally recorded by Aleksandr Afanas’ev and translated by W.R.S. Ralston. Sarah Horowitz illustrated the story with hand colored etchings. The text is set in Maiola, inspired by early Czech typography and designed by Veronika Burian of TypeTogether. Arthur Larson of Horton Tank Graphics printed the text on Zerkall paper with polymer plates made by Boxcar Press. The book was bound and boxed by Carolina Veenstra with assistance by David Myhre and Sarah Horowitz. Etching with gouache hand-coloring. Size 11.375 x 8” (single page) Edition of 40
Horowitz creates prints, drawings, and produces hand printed and bound artist's books under her imprint Wiesedruck. Her work focuses on formal aesthetics and the natural world, with an emphasis on the ephemeral and memory. Her books and broadsides revolve around prints by Horowitz and text, poems or other writing by select artists including Paul Celan, Kadya Molodowsky, Paul Auster, Virginia Woolf, and Edgar Allan Poe. She works with letterpress printers and binders to realize her projects.
Sarah Horowitz prints on Leonard Baskin's Charles Brand Press
The press, built in 1968 or 69, was purchased new from the Brand brothers. Over the years, it printed many of the etchings for Leonard Baskin's Gehenna Press' books. In addition to Baskin, apprentices and artists including Peter Bogardus and Michael Kuch spent time on the press. In spite of hopes that the press would continue to be used after Baskin's passing, that did not happen, and it was preserved in the barn studio at the Baskin home in Leeds, Massachusetts. Now after much refurbishing, rust removal, and with new blankets, the press is back in working order. It now lives in Sarah's studio in Leavenworth, Washington where she is pulling prints almost daily.
Sarah Horowitz lives at the base of the eastern Cascade Mountains where she has her printmaking studio. She previously lived in Portland, Oregon where she was a member of Atelier Mars printmaking studio for fifteen years, and worked as a printmaking and drawing instructor at Portland State University for seven years.
Horowitz recently attended residencies at the Oak Spring Garden Foundation in Upperville, Virginia and at ArtBellwald in Bellwald, Switzerland. Her work can be found in collections nationally and internationally including The Library of Congress, Stanford University Green Library, Smith College Neilson Library, New York Public Library, Wesleyan University, UC Santa Barbara, Boston Athenaeum, and Yale University Bienecke Library.
Her books are represented by Kenneth Shure (Gehenna Press/Two Ponds Press).
To learn more about Sarah Horowitz