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Steven McCarthy, MFA smccarthy@umn.edu 612 624-1729 address
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college of design university of minnesota

 

Average Asmarino is an artist’s book that depicts a series of photographs that document my return to Asmara, Eritrea 44 years after living there as a boy.

I asked people (“Asmarinos”) to pose with a B&W picture of myself, taken there locally when I was ten years old. These images are paired with street scenes or landscapes turned partially black and white, and are bound by metal eyelets to create a 90-degree open folio. The outside of each folio features a map of Asmara or other aspect of geography.

The cover is a container made of laser-cut walnut/birch plywood with a solid piece of walnut framing the thirteen folios. The ribbons (mirroring the colors of the Eritrean flag) act as aids to pull the pages from their walnut recess, itself etched with a partial map of Asmara.

Folios are 5.25 x 8.125" and the closed wooden cover is 11.25 x 13.75 x 1.25". The paper is Canson Infinity 100% rag, 220 g cover stock, inkjet printed at 9600 dpi.

Average Asmarino is an edition of two handmade books.

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I blogged about the trip and project for Eye Magazine. See:

Pride and posters in Eritrea

Mapping Asmara

Picturing the Average Asmarino

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Original grant proposal:

Asmara, Eritrea: a Psychographic Map

In his Eritrean Diaspora Mapping Project, Dawit Petros, an Eritrean-Canadian artist living and working in New York, attempts to chart the diverse paths of Eritrean immigrants from their East African origins to their current home. With Minneapolis–St Paul’s sizeable Eritrean community, many of those paths terminate here.

My own path wove through Asmara, Eritrea (then the northern-most province of Ethiopia) from 1967 to 1969 when I was a boy of eight to ten years old. My father was principal of the elementary school on the American military base Kagnew Station, largely an array of radar dishes designed to listen to Soviet communications. On two occasions he met, and I saw, Ethiopia’s ‘emperor’ Haile Selassie.  

Through a site visit to Asmara, visual documentation and in situ interviews, I propose to create a multi-form map that’s part geographic, part chronological, and part psychographic. By multi-form, I refer to the possibility of the final work being a blend of media, formats and platforms – my work ranges from artist's books to videos to web sites to traditional scholarship.

The subject of my recent creative work has been the overlapping interstices of migration, race, identity and personal history. Through the methodologies of design authorship – an engaged communication process combining graphic design, image-making, writing and self-publishing – I give visual and tactile form to stories at the margins of our national narrative.

recent work
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college of design university of minnesota

 

college of design university of minnesota