Bailey Clark is a book artist and papermaker currently finishing a residency at UC Santa Barbara’s College of Creative Studies.
In 2018, Bailey had an opportunity to watch Donovan’s Reef (1963) at the Alamo Drafthouse in San Francisco. The term “half-caste,” which one of the main characters uses to describe the mix-race children, provoked the audience enough to solicit audible gasps. It brought her to examine the ways in which people of color have been discriminated against in printed mediums such as the Louisiana Literacy Test administered in the 1960’s with the purpose of hindering colored voters by means of a series of poorly worded questions.
Test takers had ten minutes to answer thirty questions and one incorrect answer would mean failure. Bailey created a representation of the absence of time which she feels embodied by the removal of the original clock from the handmade paper.
The study of typography and letterpress printing creates the basis for her belief in the humanistic qualities of objects. Typeface has an anatomy and a menagerie of terms used to describe its particular features such as a “body,” a “hairline,” a “shoulder,” etc. Similarly, a clock as a “face” and “hands.”
Bailey had students in Linda Ekstrom’s letterpress printing class take the test and discuss the relationship between the text and the reaction that the time restraint elicited. She believes the taking of the test is vital to understanding the presence of discrimination amongst disenfranchised voters.
Bailey said: “I would like to thank the College of Creative Studies and Linda Ekstrom for selecting me to be the Artist in Residence, for offering me support and creative freedom. This work would have not been possible without the mentorship I received at Dieu Donne Paper and Pace Prints/Paper in New York. I am especially grateful for the guidance provided by Kim Yasuda, the students in Linda’s letterpress class who participated, and Diego Auchstetter. This work was thoughtfully documented and photographed with the help of Quinn Wilson. “