Facing Fear

ahead

FEAR                                       (*Article previously published in Vermont Views)

Recently I’ve been reminded of the power of fear—our collective and our individual fears: of moving forward, of the unknown, of change. Trauma in life hits us with such unexpected force, catching us unaware or unprepared and sometimes leaving us seemingly incapable of dealing with the after effects: the path ahead, the new normal. Are there ways we can steer ourselves ahead within a state of uncertainty, and still manage to steady ourselves (and others) without putting the brakes on and abandoning our reality? Can we take small steps forward and even watch our potent reactions and aversions to our circumstances?

Life keeps changing, nothing we relied on in the past can absolutely be relied on in the future, because everything in the universe moves, spins, unfurls, closes, disappears, reappears—without our control. Beloved trees are cut down, sources dry up, hopeful candidates lose, and people die, but just as importantly, new seedlings survive and grow, new sources of inspiration or substance appear, and new people or opportunities enrich our lives.

Life hits us, life hurts. … it can’t be avoided. Sometimes our physical selves just want to stop us from moving on. Armies within us who want to protect us cry out, we panic, we cry, we can’t breathe, we face what seems like the end of the world … we step on the brakes…

Even so, after repeated harsh blows in life we can choose to automatically put up walls to protect ourselves from pain, thus avoiding any chance of undergoing such discomfort again or stretch to step into the unknown without letting the fear stop us. It is our nature to protect ourselves from pain, yet by putting up walls in protection, do we not distance ourselves from who we truly are…sentient beings capable of feeling? When we allow something to get through, allow our deeper selves to be touched by circumstances (as we see in the innocence of children) we allow ourselves to experience the freshness and aliveness of our choice—to react or not, to become overwhelmed or not, to have compassion or not.

THE DUST

Facing the worry
Facing the wall
I pace back and forth
Back and forth
Worrying about the dust, the goddamned dust
Covering the unused places
That once grew life

It’s all in me
The reticence
The bewilderment
The procrastinating
The deeper fears
And I can’t quite see the reason for it

This body, my physical body
Has dug in its heels
Has said “enough”
“This is what I cannot do.”

Then lifting my head to the west I see the clouds over the river
Beginning to move over the land toward the light
Their colors like jewels in a hair clasp
All silver and topaz and gold,
Lifting, curling,
Telling me that it’s all on its way
Moving as it should
A part of the process
And my heart lifts with the light
Saying “enough,”
“This is what I cannot do
But maybe, just maybe,
this is what I can.”

poem copyright  J. Ferrari, 2016

*for more articles by Julia Ferrari, see:
http://www.vermontviews.org/vermontviews.org/in_between.html

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From the Archives

Ashuelot’s Julia Ferrari and Dan Carr turn passion into art. 

Julia Ferrari & Dan Carr

Julia Ferrari & Dan Carr

From

Posted: Saturday, June 5, 2004 12:00 am in the Keene Sentinel

By Will Coghlan

Like something out of a limerick, they are two artists from Ashuelot whose names fit together for a piece of clever, if tired, word play. She’s Julia Ferrari. He’s Dan Carr.

“It took me a few years to see that one,” Carr says, of their automotive last names. “Most of our friends were way ahead of me on that one.”

As business partners, creative collaborators, and husband and wife, Carr and Ferrari share a number of passions that first brought them together years ago. Ferrari is a painter, printmaker and book artist, specializing in abstract painting. A series of her work, “Further Mound Series,” is on display at Bagel Works Cafe on Main Street in Keene.

Carr is a poet, writer and printer who recently embarked on a new endeavor — politics. He’s running for a seat in the N.H. House of Representatives.

Ferrari and Carr have lived in a long, two-story brick building on Route 119 in Ashuelot for 22 years. The first floor of the building is a big, open space, filled with the tools of the book-making trade: printing presses from various periods, racks of type, stacks of handmade paper, and pages of elegant lettering and illustrations, ready to go into a book.

In the darker corners of the print shop, medieval-looking machinery lurks in the shadows, waiting to be called into service for some largely forgotten part of the process.

They call their business the Golgonooza Letter Foundry, a reference to the “city of transformation through art,” found in William Blake’s 19th-century poetry, Ferrari said.

The birth of a business, the re-birth of a village

Twenty six years ago, Carr was living in Boston, working with a few partners in a printing business called the Four Zoas Press (also a Blake reference). Along with mastering the trade of printing books by hand, he was a fledgling poet, struggling to find a forum for his work.

“There were something like 180 million people in this country then, and only 20 or so new collections of poetry published each year,” Carr said, lamenting all the good writing that was going unpublished.

He knew other writers were experiencing the same thing, so he put a notice in the back of an alternative newspaper called The Real Paper, advertising a class to teach writers and poets how to print their own books.

Ferrari signed up, and was one of the few students who stuck it out until the end of the course.

“Julia was one of the dedicated folks,” Carr says.

The printing and bookmaking was a fitting complement to Ferrari’s primary artistic passions. A painter since the early 1970s, she studied Art History and Studio Art at Mount Holyoke College, where she received her degree.

Through friends in the Monadnock Region, the two found the empty building in Ashuelot, and with surprisingly little deliberation, they made the move to the tiny village beside the river.

“We made the leap,” Ferrari says with a laugh. “We were in our 20s, and we didn’t really think about having a business out here, with no contacts. Had we been in our 40s, we might have been more careful.”

When they moved to New Hampshire, Ashuelot was a nearly abandoned stop on the road between Hinsdale and Winchester. A textile mill had thrived there during the 19th century, at one point manufacturing woolen blankets for the Union Army using power provided by the river.

In 1916, the village buildings and property were sold off in parcels. But the industry foundered and the mill closed in the 1940s, so when Carr and Ferrari moved in, the village appeared much as it had 75 years earlier.

There were three or four “old timers,” Carr said, two of whom had been born in the building where the letter foundry now operates. Through the local historical society, they found one of the brochures published when the village was booming — a real estate ad touting the chance to come purchase a plot near the mill.

“That was one of the richest parts of moving to New Hampshire,” Carr said. “Nothing had really changed in our building until we moved in, and we had people coming over to tell us stories about what it used to be like.”

Today, Carr and Ferrari feel deeply rooted in the little village. It helps that there are a few more neighbors now.

“More and more people are taking an interest in improving the town,” Carr said.

Learning all that her paintings have to teach

Ten years after moving in and starting their business, Carr and Ferrari got the chance to purchase the building next door. The white, two-story structure once operated as the mill’s store, and the open spaces of the glass-front first floor makes just the right studio for Ferrari’s painting.

When Ferrari displays her work, there is always one “seed piece” that will never have a price tag dangling from it. Dozens of paintings can spring from that one work, and it’s often the inspiration for her next series, too.

As an abstract artist, Ferrari says her work includes both dream scenes and elements of reality — series of dozens of works that fit together to form images she sometimes describes as “diary entries.”

“The seed piece says something to me that I can get inspired about for the next series,” Ferrari says. “I haven’t stopped learning from it yet.”

Ferrari’s paintings have been shown throughout New England, including in galleries at the University of Massachusetts, the Vermont Studio Center, Keene State College and Plymouth State College, where she was selected as one of six Granite State artists for the inaugural show at the Karl Drerup Fine Arts Gallery.

The University of Alabama hosted a show of both her paintings and book art.

The books she and Carr have collaborated on are scattered to the far corners of the globe, including in university libraries at Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Dartmouth and Brown, Smith College, Wesleyan University, the Hague and St. Brides Library in London.

One of their recent projects was a commission to print a book of poetry by Maya Angelou, complemented by etchings of jazz musicians by artist Dean Mitchell. Jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis composed music to go with the project.

When they went to New York City to celebrate the book’s publication, they were treated to a party in Harlem, dinner with Angelou and an impromptu performance by Marsalis, who leaped to the stage to accompany the jazz band.

For a book of Carr’s poetry, “Gifts of the Leaves,” Ferrari created unique “monotype” paintings to grace the first page of each of the 26 original copies of the book, which contains 26 poems — one for each letter of the alphabet.

In a painstaking process measured in thousandths-of-an-inch, Carr designed, carved and cast an original typeface for the book, naming it Regulus, after a star in the constellation Leo. Carr says the capital “R” is his favorite, although the “Q” is the most eye-catching, with a fanciful, over-long tail extending out into space

Carr says he is one of only two people in the U.S. who still practice the art of designing and hand-crafting unique new typefaces.

The books created at Golgonooza deserve a word more eloquent than the simple title “book.” Held in sturdy, cloth-covered boxes, they are elegant and artistic endeavors. The stark, black letters are spaced sparingly on the heavy, handmade paper. Small squares of Ferrari’s art are scattered among the pages, each protected by a delicate sheet of tissue.

“We like to develop our arts in parallel,” Ferrari said, even though she points to opposite sides of the studio when asked if they work in close physical proximity.

While the poems could exist without the art, and the art without the poems, the combination of the two makes for a stunning presentation.

“Julia’s art is no more an illustration of my poetry than the poems illustrate her art,” Carr said.

Finding inspiration, evolving advocacy

Just west of Ashuelot village, there are 14,000 acres of wild forests, trails, rivers, ponds and wildlife that have served as a source of inspiration for the artist and poet over the past 20 years.

Pisgah State Park is a sacred place to Ferrari and Carr, so when changes in park management this spring prompted fears that the park would become less wild, and less protected, they found themselves stepping into the role of public-lands advocates.

Ferrari organized a forum one April night in her studio to discuss the threat of development in the park. More than 100 people showed up, and she now volunteers her time as the head of a new group called Pisgah Defense, working to advocate responsible park stewardship.

“Even though it can be tough to find time in the schedule of a business owner and artist, we feel committed to those things,” Ferrari said.

Carr has begun to campaign as a Democratic candidate for state representative, based largely on a conservation platform. And of course, he’s printing his own campaign signs — campy white lettering on a vintage green background.

“For us the park is a primary source of inspiration,” Ferrari said. “We believe in the public’s right to have quiet, natural places. If we lose those things in our push for progress, what else is there left to do art about?”

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New fall classes list

Announcing our new fall workshops

see QUIET FIRE RETREATS

Triskillion mandala at Golgonooza Letter Foundry & Press

Triskillion mandala at Golgonooza Letter Foundry & Press

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From Vermont Views Magazine

A QUIET RAIN FALLS

 

 

 

 

 

We finally got some cumulative rainfall in New England, a downpour, and the day before, a quiet rain overnight. This is needed here for the crops to grow … that slow penetration of water, to mingle and make available the soil nutrients, then sun to warm and energize. I think about how our lives are no different. The essential self is affected by our environment of growing up, just as the wind or drought will affect seedlings. I think that none of us come through childhood or life without those difficult events that begin to shape us. Whether we are presented with the deeply challenging circumstances of thoughtless or hurtful people, significant loss, or consistently unstable, undesirable events, environments or conditions, all these things take the developing self and place restrictions and encumbered shackles upon it. I have come to believe that since most of us go thru this (to differing degrees) that it is actually our opportunity for growth being laid out for our lifetime. I would even go so far as to say that it is perhaps our map (in a reverse way) to finding our way back to wholeness and happiness.

 

I’m beginning to think we come into this life being given the circumstances we need to be broken, then are given the means or circumstances to grow out of them, albeit sometimes very slowly, as it may take a lifetime. Oftentimes it takes recognizing that we can become set in our beliefs, habits, patterns, pain, or restrictions, which can hold us in unhappiness and limitation. But, this can eventually become our comfort zone, and we are hard pressed to change our minds, hard pressed to turn things around. It takes a conscious choice to stop making excuses… however sometime I glimpse that it’s as simple as letting go—letting go of the absolutes, of the mind cage, of the answer No.

 

Recently I’ve experienced this type of restricting mindset in my day-to-day life, as I have found myself impossibly behind, trying to catch up to a life that was on hold for the last few years, as I passed through the resolution of grief. I found myself in a repeating thought process: that I’d never get caught up, never get things done, never get everything back to a functioning whole, to a new normal… then one day recently I saw that if I did one thing a day, one thing at a time, that eventually things would get done… not quickly necessarily, not finished tomorrow, but projects begun, things in their proper places, un-needed items given away etc. I saw that it was my thoughts that were holding me back, keeping me stuck.

 

I have heard it said that we over estimate what we can get done in the short term (for instance, in one day) and that we under estimate what we can get done in the long term, (over a few months to a year or more). This idea has helped me to open my mind to pull away from the restrictions and fears that I carry around with me—some of which go all the way back to my youth.

 

As we all know, change is inevitable: we may not want it to happen, but it will happen in spite of us. In fact, if we freeze in the face of necessary change, the choices will be made for us, and they may not be what we could have chosen. It’s hard to change ourselves. Perhaps as we each struggle through our own path toward change, I’d encourage the letting go of the absolutes that hold us in place, allowing us to begin to see what happens as we allow the nourishing rain of new possibility into our hearts, to warm the soil of our future selves.

 

 

 

 

A BOX FULL

 

I found a box full

Of the possibilities I once was

The fettered and unformed youth,

Whose past held a future undiscovered

 

Are we the sum of our trinkets?

Empty picture frames & nail files

Marking moments of dawn to dusk

Before one moment that divides the rest

 

How the heart grows through sorrow

How each and every thing that gets piled up

Gets taken away

 

And so I sort thru boxes, photos, mementoes

Little things that seemed important

Lifetimes in substance

 

Yet all of this matters not

For now I carry all my treasures within

Gather up the life

And give it away.

 

© Julia Ferrari, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

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Fall Workshop/ Retreat series

 

 QUIET FIRE WORKSHOPS

 

Golgonooza International School of Typography & Letters

 

conducts Classes & Workshops as well as having some special residency programs for students in the following areas:

 

Typography, Binding, Letterpress printing, Broadside making, Art/Printmaking, Writing

 

 

2016 Season

 

QUIET FIRE workshop/ retreat series

 

Taught By JULIA FERRARI bringing her 30 years expertise working at the Golgonooza Letter Foundry & Press, Ashuelot, NH, a fine book press, using metal & wood types, in limited edition books, with original art; working with writers and artists to create beautiful editions.

registration info: 603-239-6830

 

Improvisational Typography & Music :One day Intensive Retreat  NOVEMBER 11

9:30 a.m. – 5:00
Anais Nin spoke of weighing again her words; this workshop is for writers & designers to get hands-on contact with the tangable world of type.
We will collaborate to create a small broadside edition, with each participant to receive an original copy at the end of the retreat. We will focus on the process of improvisation and the unplanned direction of creative work.

$250. Plus lab fee of $25. Partial scholarships available on a limited basis. Call for details.

 

Improvisational Typography & Music Retreat  SEPTEMBER 26-29

(CLASS FULL)

Anais Nin spoke of weighing again her words; this workshop is for writers & designers to get hands-on contact with the tangable world of type.

We will collaborate to create a small broadside edition, with each participant to receive an original copy at the end of the retreat. We will focus on the process of improvisation and the unplanned direction of creative work.

$500.  Plus Lab fee: $25. *

 

Journaling / Bookbinding Retreat  OCTOBER 3-6

 

We will create a simple hand bound book, do active journaling, seek inspiration through walking in the New Hampshire woods & create both drawn and physical mandalas each day.

$500.  Plus Lab fee: $45. *

 

Writing Retreat      TBD

We will spend one afternoon writing and seeking inspiration.

 

*  CANCELLATION AND WORKSHOP FEES:

If  participants cancel more than 30 days prior to your workshop start date, then your tuition will be refunded in full, minus the non-refundable $50. tuition deposit.

If cancellation is less than 30 days prior to your workshop start date, then the following refund policies apply: three weeks prior to workshop, 50% of tuition will be refunded, minus the deposit; two weeks prior to workshop, neither tuition nor deposit will be refunded.

*$50. Deposit to reserve space, (nonrefundable, if canceled 30 days or less before start of classes, unless filled by another student)

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Quiet Fire Retreat

Today I held the first Quiet Fire Retreat, with four of us (Anna Horvath, Gahlord DeWald, Greg Fisher, and myself), working improvisationally together, constructing a complex letterpress form, using lots of multi-letter sizing  and hand fitting…hard work… especially doing design changes, which require reworking the fill spacing around the various sizes. We pushed beyond the resistance, to make the effort, to get the final design we wanted,

 
Letterpress form in metal

Letterpress form in metal

Letterpress form in metal

which we printed at the end of the day in an edition of 56, plus artist proofs for each of us.

 

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Golgonooza’s Universe

Meghan after the Turning of the Wheel ceremony

Meghan after the Turning of the Wheel ceremony

Triskillion mandala at Golgonooza Letter Foundry & Press

Triskillion mandala at Golgonooza Letter Foundry & Press

Last night we opened up the known universe & took apart the mandala that had gestated for one cycle in the shop. In doing so we moved the creative energy forward into a new phase for all 4 of us who took part in the event, creating a new form to grow on.

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Interview with Toni Ortner

 

https://soundcloud.com/user-517257729/write-action-radio-interview-jf-and-to

 

Kwan Yin

Kwan Yin

 

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TJ Lyons collection event at MassArt.

TJ Lyons collection event at MassArt

TJ Lyons collection event at MassArt

 

The attendees at MassArt

Today I went down to Boston to attend the opening ceremony for the TJ Lyons collection at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. I got front row seats and was mentioned in the talk as being the person responsible for suggesting the collection take the current atrium space, which was then empty. I had known of TJ Lyons from my partner Dan Carr, who had visited him in Boston, so I felt that it was important to have the collection “land”somewhere in Boston. I happened to be visiting to scope out the location for my exhibit there in 2014, and was having coffee with the Library director, Paul Dobbs, when I saw that the atrium was empty, at a time when the collection acquisition was in discussion, but space limitations were causing doubts.

I think small yes’s from those outside the circle of influence can cause big changes and flow.

It did.

Printers cut drawers

 

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Julia & Jane interview: Life Lessons

 

The Looms of Enitharmon

The Looms of Enitharmon

Transcript 13 /  pt. 1

from an interview with Julia Ferari by Jane Noyes, at the David Walters gallery February 7

 

Jane: Tell me how you met Dan again. I think you’ve told me but my memory is poor.

 

Julia: I was living in Boston. Writing poetry. And I saw an ad in the Real Paper, that is one of Boston’s alternative papers and it said “Print Your Own Poetry.” I think it appeared more than once, before I called up. And So I said, “Oh, that sounds interesting. That’s what I want to do.” It was an odd ad. I think it was very simple and had a phone number. So I thought about it for a day and then I called up. I got this person on the phone, very casual, talking to me. And instead of me asking questions: what do you do, etc. he started interviewing me. So I, being an Aquarian, thought this was a great opportunity to start something new. But I always had to start something new on new moons and looking at my calendar and it was almost a full moon so I said, “I’ll see you in two weeks!” And Dan’s like, ‘what?’ I said, “Yeah, I’ll see you in two weeks.” I didn’t tell him why. Time goes by, time goes by. And I suddenly said to myself, Oh My Goodness, I gotta remember to go do that! So, I looked in the Real Paper and the ad was gone and I looked everywhere and I couldn’t find it anywhere in my notes. And then I looked in my pencil bag and I found it in there, a two inch by two inch piece of paper that has in soft pencil the phone number and it was practically worn away. It was so worn away I was thinking, Oh My God, I could barely read it. And I called and it was the right number. I always think about it, the fact that I came that close to not having my life go in that direction and it became my entire life direction. It was a life lesson… life and destiny…. you get opportunities, but if you don’t take those opportunities your life doesn’t go in those directions. It’s not about fate as much as it is a combination of fate and your ability to make choices and just seize opportunities—but also to recognize them.

 

Jane: Right, right. And yet in retrospect you can look back on all that near-missed stuff and think well it was all part of the process. Wow. So what happened next?

 

Julia: Well I went to the shop and Dan had put me to work right away, immediately. Putting away type. No walk around, look, talk… like we would do in our shop in the later years, just talk to people. And of course people weren’t necessarily coming to work but even I think if people came to work we would talk for a while. But he put me to work immediately. ‘Do this…this is how you do it.’ (Laughing)

 

Jane: The ad had said, ‘Print Your Own Poems’… I mean if I read that I would think I was going to go and this guy is going to show me how to do it. It’s not going to be me working, putting away type. Did that take you by surprise?

 

Julia: Well, it was an arrangement. You didn’t pay, you came as an apprentice. So you worked for the privilege of getting to do things on your own eventually.

 

Jane: Did you learn that through speaking with him in the first interview?

 

Julia: I think so.

 

Jane: Okay. So it wasn’t suddenly just getting a bunch of work to do.

 

Julia: Right. But yeah, he says, “This is type and you have to learn about type. And the best thing to do is to put type away. And here it is.” (Laughing) I think I put type away for months and months and months and months. Probably because I didn’t mind doing but also because Dan told me at one point… he would test me to see if I could set type… because when you’re putting type away you have a wooden case. (People collected these for knick-knacks for a while.) So you have to memorize where all the letters go and find the boxes, so when you’re setting type you’re doing the reverse of when you’re putting it away, so technically you are learning when you’re putting away type. It’s best, as opposed to memorizing some piece of paper. And I think at one point after a period of time… I think I was a willing person putting type away, but then he was like, okay set some type. So I set some type and I’m somewhat dyslexic I think, so I set it all backwards.

 

Jane: It’s kind of a backwards process anyway…

 

Julia: It is backwards, but you can set type backwards too. Depending on what end of the stick you start at. Just like you start writing left to right. If you started in the stick on the opposite side it would be reversed. And I did that. I set this whole thing in reverse. And Dan goes, Oh! Back to putting away type. (Laughing)

 

But I stayed. I didn’t leave. And there were many people! Dan said at one point there were like 70 people that came to the shop… lots and lots of people.

 

Jane: You mean, to do that? So they had all responded to this ad?

 

Julia: Yeah!

 

Jane: Oh that’s very interesting. Wow. And so?

 

Julia: Well he said it was mostly women. Because it was the seventies, the late seventies, and women were coming into their own, wanting to learn how to do things, and this was an interesting thing that people wanted to learn. And he said to me one time, (it was a big building in a part of Charlestown on the Summerville border), and he said he was walking out one time with a woman as she was leaving and they had passed the old wooden freight elevator that was open and some guy was in there, a couple people, going up and they’re talking, and Dan hears them as he’s walking past saying, “Wow, that guy… he has a different woman every week!” (Laughing)

 

But eventually two people stuck. Mark Olsen and myself. We continued to come back. Most people would come in, work for a while, and then leave. And do something else; it wasn’t for them. But there were two of us that stayed. That was interesting… when I first met Dan, I would say I was definitely not attracted to him. (Laughing) He had a beard down to the middle of his chest. Sort of reddish brown hair and his hair was down to his shoulders. He looked very furry. Mountain man. He had a very Celtic build. Not a real super slender person… muscular, average height, lots of curly reddish-brown hair. So he wasn’t my type, but I worked there! And was just learning how to do things. And actually we irritated each other at first, too.

 

Jane: Huh! So in other words he told you at some point that you had irritated him?

 

Julia: I could just tell. I would do something and he would growl.

 

Jane: And yet you stuck with it!

 

Julia: Well… I worked there from October in 1977 and was setting type, helping with making books and stuff like that, right up until April I was still working as an apprentice. And then at one point, it was very cold in Dan’s shop by the way… the walls in the shop in Charleston was made up of boards… you could see through the cracks. It was up on the second or third floor, I forget. And it was just an old wood frame building. When the wind would blow, if there was a storm or something, it would blow water through the cracks. I remember Dan getting some of his books damaged at one point and him being upset about it. It was cold. I don’t like the cold very much so I would wear extra layers, so I had like two pairs of long underwear, two pairs of pants, a regular pair of pants and a larger pair of pants over that, and many layers of shirts.

 

Jane: Well, I can see why! That’s almost colder than just… I mean you were in this building that didn’t have sunlight to bring in extra heat.

 

Julia: I mean, it had windows but I think it was on the North side.

 

Jane: That just feels cold…and the work you’re doing is generally pretty stationary. Either standing or sitting as you’re doing all this sorting, but nothing to keep your legs moving.

 

Julia: Yeah, my hands were cold. But I had enough layers on… I built up my body heat. April came, and Dan shaved off his beard. And of course it was April so I wasn’t wearing all these layers. And I shed my layers. And our story is, we suddenly noticed each other!

 

Jane: Did he cut his hair too?

 

Julia: Yes!

 

Jane: Oh! Was this kind of an annual thing?

 

Julia: The shaving of his beard was annual, yeah.

 

Jane: Come spring…kind of like shearing a sheep…

 

Julia: Yeah! And there was a face under there. And I thought, ‘Wow. Attractive man…’ (laughing) so yeah, that was good, interesting, and another stage of our getting to know each other. I stayed working in the shop, so I was really an apprentice before I had the relationship with Dan. So. I think we were in that shop for four years, Mark and myself and Dan.

 

Jane: How long had Dan been there before you?

 

Julia: Boy, I don’t know exactly. I think a couple of years, a year and a half to a couple of years. Because there were a lot of things pinned up on the walls. There were layers of time on the walls, so it had to have been at least a year or more. Every time someone would pull a proof of a print they would just pin it on the wall. Someone came once and did an interview and they had a camera that made everything look like it was some kind of storm, because all the things on the wall, suddenly you could see them all.

 

Jane: Like a fisheye lens?

 

Julia: Yeah! It was; it was a fisheye lens. We would look at that and think ‘Wow look at all the stuff on the walls, is that what it looks like?’

 

Jane: Do you have the pictures still?

 

Julia: Oh, boy. I don’t know. Not that I have seen at all lately. I think that was in an article somewhere. So we would have to dig it up. That’s an interesting thought, a picture of the building on Sherman Street. It was 7 Sherman Street in Boston. Yeah that’s a good question! I wonder what happened to that, because it was before the Internet, of course.

 

Jane: Yeah! What I do is keep things even if I don’t know what I’m going to do with them. Maybe I’m afraid that I’ll forget. And then when you come upon them its an amazing experience… puts you back in that place.

 

Julia: Yeah! I haven’t seen it for (if it exists) I haven’t seen it for thirty years. I just remember seeing it then and being aware of it. People often come to the shop and take pictures.

 

Jane: Maybe it’s deep in a box just sitting in there all preserved.

 

Julia: It could be! I think I need some apprentices to help me go through my archives, because there are archives.

 

Jane: Put them to work in a cold building! (laughing) Tell them to wear lots of layers and grow their hair.

 

Julia: (laughing) Yes! I did a little bit of archive work in 2012 right within a few months after Dan died because I knew where some of the archives were, so I just went out and did it before it got cold because its a space that’s not heated and I found a poem that Dan had written back in 1978. So if I met him in 1977 and we really got to know each other in 1978… I found a poem that he wrote to me and he was very mysterious… He would write a poem and handset it and then print it right there and then. It was just sort of right at the point where we were falling for each other but it’s sort of this tentative thing as well. And the poem, when I found it, it was almost as if it were appropriate for that moment in time — of him telling me about my life in front of me, as it was at that moment in time when he wrote it. In other words, it was appropriate in a whole new way in 2012, to me, alone… being spoken to from this person, as appropriate as when he first wrote it. He didn’t sign it as his name. It was “Death Chants” he wrote as the signature. But it’s D. C. I knew that was ‘Dan Carr’. “Death Chants” wrote “City of Night”* which was this poem about a meadow, and the life in front of you and it was a poem that was speaking to someone… I think he was speaking to me. Because I remember when I read that poem when I was working in the shop… but part of me was kind of incredulous. I don’t think anyone had written me a poem before. He just printed it, he wrote it, and it was there in the shop when I came in. It was very subtle. He said something like, ‘Oh I just printed this…’ And I read it and I remember at the time thinking, ‘Is this to me?’ But he was the kind of guy that would never say, ‘this is to you.’ He didn’t put himself on the line, he was subtle. And I didn’t catch subtlety very well; “Death Chants… what’s that?” This twenty-something year old girl is thinking, ‘I don’t get it!’ (laughing)

 

Jane: Did you actually ask that?

 

Julia: I don’t think so, I was trying to absorb it silently.

 

*
CITY OF NIGHT
With a well and a meadow
There was a moment of silence in twilight
There is a rain in my heart
And my sky answers
If someone told you, say tomorrow
Change your world
Change your past
A thousand winds in the forest
A season of flowers
Covers the earth
Where they broke thru to fresh ground
deathCHANTS

 

 

Jane: Did he show you other work, lay things out for you to happen by and see?

 

Julia: He was always doing something, always doing something. But this one… part of me knew that was to me, but I didn’t think it was possible. He was way more subtle and sophisticated than I was. But now, looking at it I remember that moment in the shop, I remember him writing it. I remember me thinking, ‘Oh! Is this to me?’ And then reading it… it was about this moment in time and space, asking whether this life was going to unfold together, and the life in general, hinting at together, but talking about the life… what’s in the future, is it this or is it this? So I’m reading this poem thirty years later, and it’s written to me again, taking about the future and the life unfolding. And it was just astonishing. I’ve always believed in the possibility of more than one dimension of time and space. And I felt like this poem was written then, had its own meaning then, but at the same time was meant to come forward in time to 2012 and, speak to me then. That was actually completely possible… out of the realm of the normal, but it was real in its own way. It spoke to me! There’s Dan speaking to me telling me about the future. It was astonishing, actually, it just shook me.

 

Jane: I bet it did! And yet its interesting because you talk about how important paper is in your lives together… the scrap of paper that you had taken the number from the newspaper, wrote it on another paper, put it aside, almost couldn’t find it, but there it was, and how you weren’t even sure that that number was the number… but you took the chance and it was. And that’s that whole thing with fate. It came back. You can go all sorts of places with me… all these letters… its not just letters as I think of them, I just toss them off on the page. But all that goes into letters in that three-dimensional form, and sorting them and putting them into order and putting them into meaning. Paper is sort of this ethereal thing… it doesn’t really last.
from an interview with Julia Ferari by Jane Noyes, at the David Walters gallery February 7, 2014

 

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