P R AT T F O L IO Opposite, top: A spread from HuaShiHua by Jen Hyde; Bottom: The plates used to print HuaShiHua and a USB drive containing the digital files
Below: Jen Hyde writes in her home studio.
Jen Hyde, B.F.A. Writing ’07
“The physical and textual narrative of an artist’s book deepens the viewer/reader’s understanding or appreciation of the book’s subject matter.”
Jen Hyde is a poet, book artist, and founder of Small Anchor Press. In 2013-14, she was a Global Academic Fellow in Writing at NYU Shanghai, and she is currently a Language Lecturer at New York University. Hyde’s poems from HuaShiHua have been published or are forthcoming in Drunken Boat, The Sink Review, The Volta, The Likewise Folio, and Elsewhere Magazine. HuaShiHua was produced with generous funding and support from the NYU Shanghai Writing Program.
question how the form of the book prompts physical reading.
What is your definition of a book?
What ideas are you trying to present with HuaShiHua?
A book is a container for a text; it represents a narrative sequence or the disruption of that sequence. The physical and textual narrative of an artist’s book deepens the viewer/reader’s understanding or appreciation of the book’s subject matter.
How did you become interested in making artists’ books?
In the Pratt writing program, my professors introduced us to the chapbook genre, and I was excited by the idea of writing within the form of a book I could make myself. In the “Art of the Book” class, Robbin Ami Silverberg pressed us to
What role has Pratt played in your development as a book artist?
Pratt offers a unique environment for the liberal arts in that it is placed within a visual arts context. My writing studio at Pratt prompted me to consider my work as an addition to the writing tradition and in relation to the long history of writing traditions.
This piece is as much about production as it is about content. The bound manuscript, scrolls, and box of plates all illustrate the process and outcomes of my thinking.
Why did you choose to present these ideas in this format? My production process and the book’s aesthetics are modeled after the process and publications of independent publishers in Suzhou in the Qing Dynasty, which operated under the assumption that a single person can produce a book in limited edition. While it seemed obvious
to me from the start that the poems end up as a bound manuscript, after learning about Suzhou’s publishing history and imagining these small press workshops in China, I felt that the scrolls and the box of plates and cut files used to create the book were also a part of the final work.
What did you enjoy most when creating this piece?
I enjoyed the constraints presented by my environment, communication capabilities, and the chase for material. Where to find the silk fabric, how to say brocade in Mandarin, and what type of ink would be suitable. The solutions to these problems shaped my approach to editing the book’s content as the single producer of the work.