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Joan Wegner

The Word Returned

Ken Campbell is an artist working in print, painting, and recently computer graphics. The seventeen books he has made since 1978 bring together arts and crafts and focus mainly on his own poems and imagery. He writes, designs, and prints his books by letterpress, with the occasional deployment of etching, embossing and hand work. He is considered one of the leading book artists of our period.

The Word Returned is two books in one--Dos-a-dos, back to back, enfolding each other. Each book is begun and ended by the poem "Dear Judas": "In the name of God / on my left the great Angel Michael, on my right the great Angel Gabriel / before me the Shekinah." The text and design attempt to enfold the Jewish blessing with images of earth and references to Celtic notions of death and mourning at birth. At the center of the book, at the intersection of the two versions of the poem, is the core of Campbell's text: "Men seek the shadow of Your wings."

This extraordinarily complicated printing employed multicolor letterpress and handwork using lead type, wood letters, zinc and polymer plates, and zinc stencils. Because of the size of the book and the limitations of the printing press and the stencils, the poem was printed one letter at a time, requiring over 66,000 pulls on a one-ton press.






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