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Project Statement

by J. Drucker

This is a fantastic work, and continues to impress new viewers and readers. The sequence of graphic events moves us through the plant and animal kingdoms into the realms of industry and cultural production. The quality of printing and design is superb, and the richness of the colors on these pages is unparalleled. Visually seductive and aesthetically elegant, this book is large enough in format to immerse the viewer in the surreal dreamscape of its pages. The skill of the design is demonstrated by the fact that the book is never static, its action moves us through the book space as well as across the many typologies of its visual inventory of things. from _The Century of Artists' Books_: "Narratives of a more absurd, less linear variety also find their place in artists' books. One outstanding example is Willyum Rowe's book _Nurse Duck Approaches and Enters and Leaves The Garden of Eden (Visual Studies Workshop Press, 1982). This work takes full advantage of the possibilities of offset ink printing color. The combinations have been manipulated in pre-press production to isolate and intensify areas of brilliant hue. But Rowe's book which almost shouldn't work as a narrative does so because of a few very strong structural elements. First of all there is the figure of Nurse Duck herself, a storybook figure, no doubt appropriated from some reassuring elementary school text, who approaches the reader with firm step, in her perfect uniform, carrying a large bowl on a tray and a towel over her arm. This figure never changes and every place in which she appears in the book she is the same size, scale, and Maalox-pink color. This figure anchors the other images in a narrative sequence. Whether she appears rising above the horizon of a cell wall, walking across the surface of an epidermal section, or floating in the midst of microscopic organisms, her presence renders everything else landscape and background. By cutting her off within frames, angling her fixed figure, and using the rightward directed aspect of her gaze, Rowe is able to reinforce the conventional movement of the book. In almost every spread, she moves down and across the opening so that on the very last sheet, the outer cover, she gradually disappears into a dark frame as part of swirling cosmic dust. Here the inexorable logic of the book has been demonstrated and the stasis of the rest of the imagery is free to contribute its absurd and vivid iconography to the scenes" (214-215).

Nurse Duck Approaches and Enters and Leaves the Garden of Eden

Willyum Rowe


Willyum Rowe

type: initiating


Publication Information

publisher: Visual Studies Workshop Press

publication: 1982-00-00

Aesthetic Profile

pop (AAT)

travel literature (AAT)

themes: evolution, stasis, development, industrialism, artifice in nature [E. Rettberg]

content form:
graphic novel (AAT)
picture book (AAT)
visual narrative (local)

publication tradition:
comics (local)
visual narrative (local)

other influences: The background imagery of giant animals, fish, and plants certainly seems to recall "Monty Python" title sequences. [E. Rettberg]

community: press Visual Studies Workshop Press [E. Rettberg]

reception history: J. Drucker, "The Century of Artists' Books," pp. 214-215