From the beautiful end pages, beginning to end Fran Forman’s book, “Escape Artist” takes you on a journey. From cautionary tales to flights of fancy Fran Forman’s art on these pages act as an inspiration to write our own poetry, to imagine our own stories. They tell of us of despair and hope, longing and joy. Dreams and nightmares.
This book is a treasure and a gift of Frans work. With poetry and stories from Michelle Blake to start us on the this journey, so on a quiet day we too can become escape artist.
“Our children float away into the great blue sky
of the possible. They rise above the clouds so dense
we cannot see their faces.
When they call we ask
Where are you?
You Know, they say,
I am Here.
But they’re not. Only earlier versions of them
run ahead toward
the roaring ocean, the snarling dog, the river
with its devious swirls and eddies.
And without meaning to, we call Stop!
Until they turn their trusting
faces and reach back for our hands
to lift us lightly with them into the wide and starting world.”
ESCAPE ARTIST: The Art of Fran Forman
published by Schiffer Books:
96 images, poems and story by Michelle Blake, and essays on photo montage and fantasies of flight.
With an introduction by Rebecca Hoffberger, founder / director
of the American Visionary Art Museum.
In this rich and dream-like collection of photo-paintings, artist and fabulist Fran Forman offers characters, scenes, and visual narratives that lure the imagination. She explores the multiple meanings of the word escape, focusing on the central idea of breaking through the normal barriers of everyday life. Many of these figures appear to be floating or rowing or sailing away, trying to leave the rest of the earth-bound world behind. Thus, the artist invites us to ask ourselves what realities exist beyond the traditional limits of gravity, linear time, and social convention. The exquisite poems and story by writer Michelle Blake act as a guidebook to these vast imaginary worlds, suggesting voices for some of the characters and destinations for some of the journeys. All together, the book offers its own particular form of beauty, one that invites the viewer to step outside the known.
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Your may purchase Escape Artist on Amazon
Also from Schiffer Books.
Fran Forman was kind enough to share with us the process of having her book published.
The process: Fran Forman
Two years ago, I was contacted by the Editor of Schiffer Books. He had seen my work in another book, “Contemporary Cape Cod Artists”, and in a few other books, and I suppose he was sufficiently intrigued to give me a call. Thankfully, he suggested that they were interested in publishing a monograph of my work. They had just completed books for Amy Arbus and Harvey Stein, and I was impressed with the production values, so I began to organize my thoughts in the form of a proposal. I fact, I met with Harvey in New York, and he assured me that he was consistently pleased with Schiffer’s care and quality.
The summer before, I had taken a weekend workshop with Sylvia Plachy, who had looked at some of my work and spouted: ‘Escape Artist’. She clearly saw what had been right in front of my nose all along, in its description of my art-making and of me, and it seemed like a no-brainer to use those two magic words as the over-arching theme of my book. I decided to organize the book into “chapters” , with a poem at the beginning of each chapter to serve as a sort of guide. I had already been working with the poet Michelle Blake on another project (a story created in response to my images), and I asked Michelle to collaborate on the poetry based on the pre-selected images.
After submitting the proposal, I waited for about four months, and one day, the call came: “your contract is in the mail”. Then the work really began!
Happily, the publisher offered a square format and I agreed to the 10×10 size to keep the cost down. Most of the images already existed, and since I’m obsessive about color, I sprang for a new monitor (my one big expense) in order to accurately calibrate the colors with the printer in China. I also did all the CMYK conversion so as to further assure color fidelity, making adjustments as needed. One of the most challenging aspects was the editing and sequencing for each chapter. I sometimes bugged my friends and colleagues (all of whom are thanked in the book!) for their opinions. Occasionally, I had to abandon some of my images – a little like infanticide, I felt. I even eliminated a whole chapter (maybe I’ll save it for another book!). One of my favorite things was to design the end papers, and when you buy the book, you’ll see a variation from the front to the back.
Also, because I’m obsessive, I decided to design the layout myself. Using Adobe InDesign, I went through many, many, many iterations, sequencing and re-organizing multiple times, playing with fonts, placement, sizing, etc. The 192 pages used the publisher’s complex numerical system to insure that each hi-res image is attached to the correct page and caption. I submitted a lo-res PDF as the format only, because I wanted to rely on the expertise of the publisher’s professional designer (I’m not really a book designer!).
I decided to include a few essays from respected artists working in other fields, so I requested and then organized the placement of the essays. I’m extremely delighted by them all: Rebecca Hoffberger (Founder and Director of the American Visionary Art Museum), Michelle Blake (writer and poet), Laurie Kahn (documentary filmmaker and colleague at the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis), Carolyn Russo (photographer and curator at The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum), and Stephen Perloff (Editor of The Photo Review).
The first galley arrived in August and very few changes were required. I was delighted when the Editor told me I’d submitted a “clean” layout, which obviously expedited the process. The book was printed at their facility in China, and since it’s all printed by code rather than the old-fashioned way, it wasn’t necessary for me to be on press. Needless to say, I’m thrilled with the production and craftsmanship of the printing. The book is hard-cover with a jacket, and the jacket image is also printed on the front cover. The book has 192 pages and 96 images.
What do you hope people will take away from you book?
Because the images can be viewed and understood on so many different levels, they appeal to young and old, all of whom create their own interpretations and narratives. And I hope people will begin to think about escape not as an end in itself but as the beginning of a journey.
Thank you Fran.
To learn more about Fran Form please visit her site, Fran Forman.
To read our interview with Fran please visit,“The Art of Fran Forman”.