The Island

handmade artist’s book

The Island | 2023 | 6" x 9" x 3" (closed)

As the land sinks and the waters rise, my father’s favorite place is fated to join the open waters of the Chesapeake Bay in the coming years. The hunting cabin he’s built over the decades is still a refuge from tidal flooding. But like tracking a child’s growth, the wall inside is marked with the heights of recent storm surges.

Reconnecting with a place that occupies my childhood memories came with a growing urgency to document and preserve it in hopes that the artist’s book will outlast the island.

The Island showcases instant film photographs that capture a portrait of the private hunting island, eerie and beautiful, with hints of its human caretakers. Its cypress wood covers were once part of the cabin. Each page is unique in texture, color, and shape thanks to the handmade paper that uses only phragmites — the invasive reed species taking over Maryland’s wetlands. Nature findings, like snake skin sheds, bayberry leaves, and mushrooms, are embedded in the pages and joined by less natural findings like toilet paper from the outhouse and paint chips peeled from the cabin. Flipping through its pages brings forward the smell of the brackish marsh with hints of Old Bay seasoning.

A miniature, hand-sewn composition notebook, much like the one that lives at the island for its visitors to write in, waits for the viewer in the back pocket. It shares the artist’s personal connection to the place through family photos and journal entries spanning 1993 to 2023, from ages 3 months to 30 years.

Scroll to see a selection of pages from the book →