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Isabel Lederman


Isabel Lederman received her MFA in Book Arts and Printmaking from the University of the Arts Philadelphia and her BA in Literature and Creative Writing, emphasis in poetry from the University of California Santa Cruz. She currently works as a Research Associate, Media Outreach and Public Engagement Coordinator at the Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery in Philadelphia, teaches an Artists Books: Visual Poetry and Artists Publications and Letterpress: Broadsides and Chapbooks in the Printmaking Department at Maryland Institute College of Art
in Baltimore, Maryland and is the founder and contributor to Windows 16.


Isabel Lederman’s artistic concerns constantly question what is a book, how does one read, and how does
one retain information. Her work examines language within a visual art practice through various visual
forms of reading. Isabel’s poetry shifts between genres, using realistic, suggestive and technical language
to create poems about the act of thinking. Her poetry challenges a visual reading experience by playing
with the depth of language that is both personal and theoretical, narrative and abstract.


Dark Habits, Risograph Broadside 2017

Limited edition broadside commissioned by Philadelphia’s Title Magazine for the re-launch of the magazine hosted at Ulises. Title Magazine has been a fixture in the Philadelphia art world for five years and is expanding content in experimental and creative writing, projects engaging writing as an art form, personal, cultural and political essays, artists interviews and studio visits, and digital projects. The broadsides addressed the theme of ekphrasis- an act of descriptive writing- as a way to discuss current writing practices. The text in the broadside comes from a larger body of work that began as a forced project to write only a manuscript for a poetry chapbook. There was a part of me that wanted to return to where I felt my studio practice began, as just writing. I set up strict parameters around writing the manuscript after one day coming up with the opening line in the shower. So from that point forward I wrote the manuscript in the shower where I could only access the full text then and there, writing only a line or two at a time. When I finished the manuscript I realized that my studio practice was really evolving again—and in some ways it exists as a post-studio practice. This broadside will accompany an artists’ book, Dark Habits as it coincides with another project that I have been working on since October 2016. 

Title Magazine Launch at Ulises February 25, 2017

Dark Habits, Windows 16 Inaugural Exhibition October 2016

Windows 16 is a virtual storefront gallery Instagram project that collaborates with artists, galleries, and graphic designers. My contributions to the project are curating small group exhibitions around specific themes to generate press releases and critical dialogues between the artworks shown in each exhibition. I draft project briefs and work with graphic designers who are responsible for designing the window storefront, selecting typographical elements, and at times even placing the work as they see fit. The project stemmed out of how I felt I was loosing time while traveling to teach in Baltimore as well as different aspects of working
at a gallery that either my ideas didn’t fit in with the trajectory of the institute or actual spatial limitations
of the gallery. I wanted to create a project to have a focus on generating ideas, with as little limitations as possible. A lot of graphic design and architectural theories play a part in the project, but the most important thing I wanted to emphasis is that it is constantly rebranding as a way to parallel how fluctuating my own
studio practice has become. Windows 16 will begin producing artists’ books and publications with each
window design. The graphic designers will be responsible for designing an artists’ book or publication that correlates with the window they designed by developing a new voice or concept based off of the press
release or project brief. I will be producing an artist book, Dark Habits, that builds off of the window’s theme, which focused on studio practice and artists who are/were always trying new things and yet maintain/ed a common thread throughout their works. This parallels a self-reflexive inner narrative for myself to generate
an artist book around writing and my own studio practice.

Excerpt from Dark Habits press release: 

"the works in this exhibition set the narrative of reveling in the depths of anomalies. Cognizant of predictability, dark habits are slight reoccurring gestures that appear within each artists' canon of practice...How disparate is recreating and creating? How do we break the assumptions of trajectory, opt for tactics of distraction as a way of defining what is most meaningful to the practice of making art?"

Still Fuzz, Windows 16 exhibition designed
by Rahul Shinde

When We Look Up, 2015 projected digital poem

When We Look Up engages a viewer’s body in the visual experience of reading a digital poem in a gallery
setting by challenging how we conventionally view video.  The poem is projected downwards onto the
surface of vellum that is inset within a pedestal. As a way to evoke how we look down at a book or a mobile device, When We Look Up experiments with a visual reading of semiotic hypertext and rhythm in the virtual
field of a projected video.

Each line of the poem is typed out and then dissolves, leaving a mark on the screen as the next line appears, allowing text to also be image. Similar to the way in which we scroll through text on a computer screen, the piece emphasizes the loss of language and how digital technology is changing the way in which we display
and reflect upon language. The text’s narrative slips in and out of time, mirroring the space created by technology in a long distance relationship, while questioning how we use technology to mitigate distance
in our relationships. 

The overall design of the installation is a comment on how we look down to connect with our computers and cell phones. We slip into the digital world and once we have finished with what we were doing on the device, we look back up to connect again with the space around us. Adjacent to the projection is a framed platinum print of a lifesaver. The text from the poem claims that the lifesaver is a faded orange, but the print depicts the lifesaver in sepia tones. My intention to print the photograph in platinum is to play with the notion that we do not remember our memories in color. 

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