Making Redheaded Peckerwood at Light Work

New York-based artist Patterson has been working on his artist book, Redheaded Peckerwood, for the last two months at Light Work, starting in May when he was an artist-in-residence. Redheaded Peckerwood is based on the true crime story of 19-year-old Charles Starkweather and 14-year-old Caril Ann Fugate, who murdered ten people, including Fugate’s family, during a week-long killing spree across the state of Nebraska in 1958. The series was made during several road trips following the path of Starkweather and Fugate, from their hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska to the point of their capture in Douglas, Wyoming. The resulting images include significant places and things from their story. The project is part road trip, part time machine, and mostly a testament to the thin line between fame and infamy, truth and representation.

It’s been fun and exciting for us to watch as Patterson has utilized almost every aspect of our facility to make this book come together. After perfecting the images in our digital lab and finalizing the layout in InDesign, Patterson used one of the 4880s in our public access digital lab to print the entire guts of the book. (For the paper geeks out there, the book is printed on Moab Legion Paper, Lasal Photo Matte 235. After talking to Patterson about the project, Moab generously donated enough paper for him to print an edition of 10 of the books.)

Watch here as our 4880 produces one sheet of the 144 pages in the book, which features 64 images. It took about 15 hours to print each book.

Throughout the project, Patterson has been working with Jared Landberg, a local book binder and photographer with considerable book binding skills. Together they have hand folded, sewn, and trimmed the book.

Watch here as Landberg sews one of the copies of Redheaded Peckerwood.

Yesterday, Patterson screen-printed the cover of the book with John Wischmann, another local artist. The book cover features an image, in negative, of Starkweather and Fugate on a gray book cloth, which references the photographic negative.

Redheaded Peckerwood also contains facsimiles of artifacts from the case, including a map, a poem, a list of dirty jokes, and a confession letter, all of which Patterson has painstakingly re-created down to the aged look of the paper, where appropriate. To make the facsimile of the confession letter for example, Patterson hand-traced each letter using a photograph of the original document and a light table.

The first few books will be “cased-in” this weekend. We’re hoping that Patterson will bring us a finished book on Monday! There is some time pressure to finish at least a few of the books soon, as Redheaded Peckerwood will be exhibited during this year’s Recontres d’Arles in France.

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