Felicia Rice: Heavy Lifting (Moving Parts Press)
Felicia Rice, book-making artist and operator of Moving Parts Press, stops by Santa Cruz to share some recent work. There will be a short artist talk at 1:30pm, with refreshments and a reception throughout the afternoon.
The new book, Heavy Lifting, is a close collaboration with poet Theresa Whitehill. It treats my personal loss, but also the collective crises of the last year, placing Theresa and I here on the cusp of an unimagined future, squaring off with terrible truths. I’ll have a mock-up of the book and a prototype of the binding, along with some printed sheets. [–Felicia Rice]
“As a printer, my job is to confront complex issues and render my response to them in book form. As an artist, my job is to do so with profound integrity. As a publisher, my job is to make these issues public. As printers have done every decade since Gutenberg, I’m here to respond to the ongoing tragedy of dehumanization and to argue for a more just society.”
Felicia Rice collaborates with visual artists, performing artists and writers to create book structures in which word and image meet and merge. She employs traditional typography and bookmaking methods in conjunction with digital technology, bringing the flexibility of screen-based design to the texture and history of the letterpress-printed page.
Felicia’s work is driven by the text. The word informs each decision she makes throughout the printing process, an outgrowth of four decades of letterpress printing and countless hours spent hand setting lead type letter-by-letter. As a relief printmaker, she layers digitally manipulated type with images drawn from her sketchbooks and rubbings from familiar surfaces.
Work from the Press has been included in exhibitions and collections both nationally and internationally, from AIGA Annual Book Shows in New York and Frankfurt to the Victoria & Albert Museum. Moving Parts Press has been the recipient of numerous awards and grants including The Rydell Visual Arts Fellowship, Elliston Book Award, Stiftung Buchkunst Schönste Bücher aus aller Welt Ehrendiplom, and grants from the NEA, CAC and the French Ministry of Culture.
Felicia explores the book as performance art in her spoken word performance practice. In 2014 Felicia Rice published the artists’ book, DOC/UNDOC, a seven-year collaboration with four others: Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Gustavo Vazquez, Jennifer Gonzalez and Zachary Watkins. Through the process of developing this transmedia project, Felicia experienced a profound transformation that led to her work as a performance artist.
Felicia is a native Californian rarely found far from the coast. She was born in San Francisco and raised in the Bay Area art world of the ’50s and ’60s. At nineteen she discovered her vocation: the art of the book and in 1974 she moved to Santa Cruz to attend the University of California, Santa Cruz and study typography and letterpress printing under designer-printer Jack Stauffacher at Cowell College. During that time, she had the opportunity to work with William Everson, poet-printer in the Lime Kiln Press at the McHenry Library on his renowned book, Granite & Cypress, and with Sherwood Grover, pressman for thirty years at the preeminent fine press, Grabhorn Press in San Francisco. In 1981 she inherited Sherwood’s press and type library. The library, along with the rest of the Moving Parts Press archive, now resides in Special Collections at UC Santa Barbara.
Rice founded Moving Parts Press in Santa Cruz in 1977 where she entertained clients and authors, artists, and students for over a decade before moving the press to the mountains of Bonny Doon. The Moving Parts Press logo depicts a multi-armed freak from a pirated edition of the Nuremburg Chronicle printed in Augsburg in 1497. The logo also evokes Kali, the Hindu goddess associated with eternal energy. Under the Moving Parts Press imprint, and occasionally the subsidiary Mutant Drone Press, she has created and published hundreds of books, broadsides, prints and ephemera. These editions of new literature, works in translation, and contemporary art explore the relationship of word and image, typography and the visual arts, the fine arts and popular culture, political criticism and social impact.
With one foot firmly planted in the 19th century and the other in the 21st, Rice employs traditional typography and bookmaking methods together with digital technology to bring the flexibility of screen-based design to the texture and history of the letterpress-printed page. Her collaborations with visual and performing artists, writers, and philosophers result in structures that explore the book as a performance of the text.
The Literatura Chicanx/Latinx Series has fed the editorial and artistic direction of the press for more than twenty-five years. The Literatura Chicanx/Latinx Series of contemporary Chicanx/Latinx artists and writers explores the intersection of cultures, disciplines, and book structures in both limited and trade editions. Each book is the result of a close collaboration with visual artists, performing and sound artists, and writers that produce book structures in which word and image meet and merge. Notable among these works is Codex Espangliensis, an artists’ book that chronicles and confronts the realities and surrealities of border culture, the result of a collaboration with Guillermo Gómez-Peña and Enrique Chagoya. Having garnered international attention, the trade edition of the book has remained in print continuously since 1998. The limited edition artists’ book, DOC/UNDOC Documentado/Undocumented Ars Shamánica Performática, published in 2014, builds on this success with the addition of Rice’s own imagery, an electronic soundscape, and experimental video. A trade edition of DOC/UNDOC presents this seven-year collaboration with Gómez-Peña, Gustavo Vazquez, Jennifer González and Zachary James Watkins in its entirety and is available from City Lights Books. Published in 2019, Borderbus with poet Juan Felipe Herrera, is the latest in this series. In 2020 Califas: An Ancestral Journey/El Viaje Ancestral was co-published with Museo Eduardo Carrillo as an artists’ book and as a commercially-printed trade edition. The Necropolitics of Extraction (2020) explores a new theme for the Press, environmental justice.
Rice designed and printed work on commission for over twenty years and taught book arts at UCSC for fourteen years before becoming an administrator for UCSC Extension’s Graphic Design Program and later UCSC’s Digital Arts and New Media MFA Program. She retired from the university in 2017 and is now in the shop full time. In December 2018 she was featured in PBS’s award-winning documentary series Craft in America in the episode, VISIONARIES.