Friday, April 19, 2019
Word Up Community Bookshop
2113 Amsterdam Ave. @ 165th St.
Inju Kaboom’s Printing Hudson River show comprises the full series of prints she produced for El Alto/The Heights, which was a group printmaking project commissioned by Realengo Studio and Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria.* Each print in Inju’s series—created using suminagashi, ebru, and marbling printing techniques—was unique in execution and result. Alongside the full series, Inju will be hosting public workshops to demonstrate the techniques; stay tuned for more information on the workshops and artist talk to come.
Printing Hudson River will be on view through May 19.
Inju Kaboom’s Printing Hudson River
The print series I have produced for El Alto represents a lifetime spent in Washington Heights. The act of printing off the river represents the un-curated and un-gentrified freedom the park still affords the people at the park. Each print represents the unique and totally original nature of a neighborhood bound by the diversity of cultures and communion of natural public spaces like the Hudson River.
Marbling is a printmaking technique produced especially for bookmakers. In Europe, it was used as end papers for hardcover books that designated a unique signature for the publisher. In Japan, it was prized as an authentication technique for highly sensitive royal documents. Each print is unique but comes from the same batch of water and ink pool.
While the diversity of the neighborhood has shifted and changed with time and the big tide of gentrification inevitably reaches The Heights, one thing I have always experienced as an equalizer, has been the riverbank at George Washington Bridge Park. I grew up watching the Puerto Rican Liberation Army practice drills by the river, right next to actors practicing mime routines for workshops at Juilliard. There were no shortages of older semi-retired men from a rich tapestry of diverse backgrounds; Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, China, Upper West Side; fishing, crabbing and kayaking on the riverbank. Families from Russia to Mexico making their own unique take on BBQ. I once watched a Cuban family bury a small pig into the sand with some coal—a full day’s worth of digging and cooking but at sunset what a feast! For most families like my own family, our vacation was usually a stay-cation, spent on a stolen weekend, people watching and communing with other families at the riverbank where the city seemed just a fingertip away.
I have this great memory of my grandmother visiting one year from South Korea and we spent the whole day foraging for edible greens all along the park. I remember feeling both embarrassed and completely fascinated by how much free food there was everywhere—she showed me how to harvest mulberries from all the trees along the river—she went home and made everything from wine to preserved jellied candies. If she were still alive, I would have shown her how to wrap her wonderful mulberry candy onto marbled paper for the holidays.
* The Heights/El Alto is organized by Realengo Studio and Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria, and was made possible in part with funding from the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation and administered by LMCC.