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

ruby red book

ruby red book spreads

ruby red bottles

ruby red bottles

ruby red bottles

 

Intense Ruby Red: From Irish Blood to French Wine and Back Again tells the story of Irish mercenary soldiers – the so-called Wild Geese – who fought in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries, and then emigrated to the Bordeaux, France wine region. Some eventually became well known vintners and merchants: Phelan, Barton, Lynch, Dillon and Hennessey (cognac). Among ths group was Denis Mac-Carthy, exporter of French wine to Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, and founder of Chateau Mac-Carthy – which still exists today.

The last known Mac-Carthy decendent, Donald, died in 1920. That I was born in Bordeaux on an American military base to my parents Donald and Carolyn McCarthy in 1958 is entirely a coincidence. Still, the convergences are impressive. The project, enabled by a trip to Bordeaux in June 2009, is part global history, part personal history and part an expressive reaction to the topic – in other words, it’s the book as ‘cultural crossroads.’

The story is told through original photography, text, collage elements and rubber stamps – all applied directly to empty Bordeaux wine bottles with their original labels intact. Essentially, the story of the Irish influence is being written over the graphic vernacular of the wine industry’s labels, which are typically very traditional in their approach to design, illustration and typography.

The 30 bottles are a metaphor for pages in a book, with a number of them carrying text in sequential order and others serving primarily as illustrative material. Instead of a message in a bottle, the message is on the bottle – or as Marshall McLuhan might insist: the bottle is the message.

A 100-page paperback book is an extension of the project. Self-published by Lulu.com, the on-demand digital printing service, it documents the bottles and includes addtional photography and an explanatory text.

recent work
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college of design university of minnesota

 

college of design university of minnesota