For three years I worked on a small commercial farm in North Carolina. The main thing we farmed in the summer were tomatoes. I do not recall how many rows we planted but the rows were between 50 to 100 yards long. Let’s put it this way, there were more than one row! In addition, I enjoyed helping a friend of mine tend to his tomato ‘garden’ which consisted of about 350 plants. Spending all that time crawling through rows of leafy vines and dense mulch, I got a good idea what it must feel like to be an earthworm. Since most of my Artist Books are about things and concerns that are important to me, I wanted to make a book about crawling through the rows of tomatoes. But whenever I tried to image what the structure would be, I fell short. Still, the idea to make this book never left me.
Last year, I was making lots of books and came across a structure called a Tunnel Book. The big Ah-Ha moment soon followed. Now I had the right structure for this tomato book but I was neck deep in other book projects so I just filed the tunnel format away in my mind until the right time came.
A good portion of the books I made last year addressed the topic of multiculturalism. I was working on, what I believe to be, the final book of this series called What Did We Learn from the Potato Famine? The book uses agricultural monocultures as a metaphor for the hazards of living in a homogenous society.
After I cut the linoleum block that was used for the potato plant, I remembered that potatoes and tomatoes are both nightshades, the plant family Solanaceae (See a post I wrote on this topic here). So, taking some artistic liberty, I decided it was perfectly fine to use the top part of my potato plant print for the tomato book.
You can get different views of these book, since they are three dimensional, on my website.