What did you like about Georg Daniel Flohr? I was honored to read Georg Daniel Flohr’s journal and gaze with wonder at his maps and illustrations of the young American colonies and Caribbean ports. His boats, buildings and color palette were things of great beauty. I admired his humanity and pluck, and kept thinking of Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, while I read and wondered about how Flohr became Flohr.
The documentation of his journey with particular emphasis on cultural happenings, finding German speakers, plants, animals and food stuff he encountered which were different than back home gave his journal a warmth and immediacy that time traveled successfully to the current day.
I think I most liked that he bothered to keep a journal and was faithful to the practice, and came home to elaborate, correct and amplify his experiences with correct dates, ship manifests and additional information on a variety of subjects that he left space for in the manuscript.
How did this project affect my studio practice? I broke my photocopy machine, a critical tool in this process just a few days before our books and posters were due. My studio was awash in photocopies, library books, and stank from oil of wintergreen, an analgesic used to tame sore muscles, but also a transfer medium. I love photocopies and making transparencies from fragments.
I had to make due with fragments of images and texts already copied and on the spirit of just needing to be finished elements seemed to take on a life of their own and work out in surprising ways. I don’t really draw, so both needed and wanted to use pictorial images of the time. I am interested in the history of science and nature, so my cache of natural history images extremely useful for this project. I wished I had an image of French soldiers marching, or boots, or something, but I never found one.
I am a printmaker and although I didn’t carve any woodblocks, I used my press for every single image and piece of text that is incorporated into my book, HISTORY LESSONS. I had to reverse every single piece of text and often felt archaic and hopelessly analog in this digital world where Photoshop would have made many of my steps effortless. I use techniques that I know work, so I suppose my studio practice exists in the realm of being a working artist for many years and of having a studio practice and resources of experience to help realize a complicated project like this one.