“I began publishing ‘zines when I was 16 years old,” Emily Larned explained. “And I learned that publishing could be its own media. It was an act of community that changed my life every day. I’d receive things from people in the mail. It was very educational, and I interacted with people at varying stages in their lives. It made my world a lot bigger.”
Today, Larned says her work is still completely informed by the publishing process. Her award-winning artist books, ‘zines, & publications (including Muffin Bones zine, Memorytown USA zine, Parfait zine, & artist books under her former imprint “Red Charming”) are collected by over 70 institutions internationally— including the Tate, the Brooklyn Museum, the V&A, and the Smithsonian— and are exhibited around the world.
Impractical Labor in the Service of the Speculative Arts
In 2008, Larned founded Impractical Labor in the Service of the Speculative Arts (ILSSA) with Bridget Elmer, an artist, bookmaker, letterpress printer, and co-owner of Print St. Pete Community Letterpress. “We try to foster a community of like-minded creators – letter press and experimental artists. It’s been wonderful,” Larned said, “and I’m so grateful for it. It’s such an iterative way to work – an opportunity to live fully in the process.”
The Impractical Labor in the Service of the Speculative Arts is a union for reflective creative practice. This group of artists, makers, and creative practitioners collaborate on projects generated by explorations of time intensive individual processes that exist as a fleeting time as a coherent whole. ILSSA’s most recent installation, “ILSSA Implement: Essential Tools for Living”, was in Webster University’s Hunt Gallery; the next show, Unrequited Leisure, opens in Nashville in September.
Adler & Frankia: Handmade Books
In 2016, Larned established Adler & Frankia, the imprint for collaborative art book projects she creates with other artists, thinkers, doers & friends. Our daily lives have to be a satisfaction in themselves, a history of Bridgeport’s iconic feminist vegetarian bookstore, Bloodroot, was the imprints first big hit. “The essays and photos about Bloodroot’s 40 years of history are very inspiring, and the message that’s in there is needed right now,” Larned said, explaining the decision to do a second printing.
Larned’s current project, as yet unnamed, began with an examination of second wave feminist literature in the Barnard Center for Research on Women’s collection – particularly the pamphlets and zines of the time. Her plan is to reissue these works in different formats. For example, a publication from the New York Black Women’s Health Project that originally appeared as a pamphlet is being blown up to poster size and printed in white on black; this process presents the original material as a different object. Along with these reissues, Larned plans to present contextual matter, articulating who was responsible for the first publication, why they created it, and whatever else is known of the group’s story. Funds from this project will be disseminated either to the organizations that created the initial publications, or, if those groups no longer exist, the contemporary group most closely aligned with their values.
Community as Art Form: The American Fabric Arts Building Studio Experience
“I’ve been in the building since 2006, when I came back to Connecticut to go to grad school.” Larned, who obtained her graphic design degree from Yale and is currently teaches graphic design at the University of Bridgeport, originally occupied a studio on the building’s basement level. Then, an opportunity came to move to the third floor. “I was really excited, because the space is great, the windows are huge – but I was also a little apprehensive, because I have a lot of equipment, and it’s heavy. The team here was really great – they gave me access to the freight elevator and help. Alex in particular helped me move a lot of stuff, and Tom went above and beyond helping me move a really large press.”
When asked what she valued most about her studio space, Larned had an immediate answer. “The community. The people in the building are great. I meet with a couple of friends every Friday at 4:30 – it’s our time to share work and talk. On one level it’s just friends hanging out, but on another level, it serves as a mini-deadline – a little bit of pressure that can keep things moving.”