3191: Evenings

[Alyson Kuhn] When Jane Monast at Mohawk sent me an e-mail two weeks ago about the 3191 project, I clicked on the link… nodded at my screen, scrolled around, started smiling… and promptly sent Maria Alexandra Vettese {aka MAV} an e-mail that said

Have I been living under a rock? I love your project and would like to write about it. Can we talk? We did.

The first 3191 project started as a pair of photos on Flickr, one taken by Maria in Portland, Maine, and the other taken by Stephanie Congdon Barnes in Portland, Oregon. The photos blossomed into a year-long photo-blog called 3191: A Year of Mornings. Each artist put up one photo of “her morning” – taken without consulting the other. So, each diptych is a pair, but not a pairing. Maria says, “When we started the project, we had met only once, and briefly. Certain pairs are so strikingly similar! By the time Stephanie e-mailed me her photo for the day, I would have shot and selected mine. Time and again, I would just gasp and think, People aren’t going to believe this!

So, 3191 became a big blogbuster… and then a book – currently in its fourth printing {after one exciting year}. Maria and Stephanie’s year-long blog of evening photos followed… and the very freshly-printed book is a delight in every sense. {Yes, I have one at my elbow.} Maria comments, “For the Evenings project, we both frequently shot more than one, but each still selected our evening image for that day without showing or discussing. It really was about representing that evening.” And, until tomorrow – which is to say, the day after today – you can order one {or more} at the pre-publication price and your copy/copies will be signed by Maria and Stephanie {who is flying approximately 3,191 miles, with her favorite book-signing pen, for the big shipping party at the end of this month}.

I ask Maria about the intimacy of this project, and she responds, “Definitely, it’s a very intimate collection of two years of our lives side-by-side. Many of these images are very personal. We had both ended our personal blogs. I don’t keep a journal or a photo album, so there is nowhere else that we are recording these moments of our existence.” There won’t be a third book, but she and Stephanie have a new blog, still with pairs of photos, but now with captions and sometimes longer reflections. I love it.

I ask if looking at a particular photo brings back that morning or evening. Maria confirms, “When someone mentions one of the photographs to me, I can absolutely instantly say, ‘Oh, yes, I remember, that was the first really cold morning. Fall is coming.’ If I look at a photo of a dinner, I remember ‘Oh, yes, I had dinner with so-and-so.’ And I feel the emotions of that moment again.”

Maria is a long-time letterpress-printer, and a Mohawk Superfine loyalist. For 3191: Evenings, she was considering Mohawk Via, but Robert Brown at Kirkwood Printing recommended Superfine. He says, “The tight formation of Superfine was perfect for this project. We wanted maximum ink hold-out and were able to achieve that, even on the Eggshell finish. The 100# text took the images beautifully.” The book won’t be officially released for two more weeks, so there are only about 40 copies out in the world so far. Maria exclaims, “Everyone – and I don’t just mean designers, even my mother – comments immediately about the paper! It looks, and feels, so beautiful. Superfine White was the perfect choice.”

Robert adds, “The person at Kirkwood who deserves the most credit for the outcome of this project is Jennifer Killoren, the customer service rep. Cindy Amaral and Mike Nolan in the planning dept did a great job. And Steve Toomajanian, the pressman, made us all look good.”

Front cover photo: Stephanie Congdon Barnes.
Photo pairs: Maria, above; Stephanie, below.
Author photo: Stephanie, left; Maria, right.

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Comments (1)

  1. Posted by HereBeDragons on 09.17.09 at 3:38 pm

    I absolutely love this concept. Everytime I see something like this I love it.

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