Metal type
Wood type
Edition 10
Factory Stories is a series of prints produced during a residency at The Penland School of Craft. It features narratives by female factory workers employed in the textile industry in Southeastern Europe. My source was “Women and Industry in the Balkans: The Rise and Fall of the Yugoslav Textile Sector” by Chiara Bonfiglioli.

Having grown up in a city with a significant textile industry and witnessing the changes during and following the war of the 1990s, I wanted to capture experiences of work as well as the mundane moments in women’s lives. I would set one story in metal type, one letter at a time. I would print each story multiple times, then take the letters apart to construct the following story and print it by hand. In this way, the construction process is embedded in the work.

I see the prints as mechanisms that reflect hidden narratives. I play with the idea of memorializing and even monumentalizing individual stories. The resulting work questions the relationship between private memories and collective remembrances. The printed narratives serve as testimonies to collective actions that enabled the building of the factory infrastructure in impoverished areas. They also address the subsequent marginalization of workers after privatizing national factories. They also document life circumstances and the overwhelming challenges faced by women working in the context of organized labor, as well as their resiliency.

When completed, I realized the creation of the prints took over 70 hours of labor. Since I didn’t have enough letters to set the entire text, after printing small paragraphs set in metal type, I had to return to the table and redistribute the letters to make new paragraphs. I found myself like Penelope in The Odyssey, weaving words and then unweaving language at the end of the day. The resulting prints bear the marks of letterpress-printed work, slightly embossed letterforms bite into the paper and interlock to create abstract fields of text, accented by gestural forms printed using printer’s rules. Each print was produced in an identical edition of 10.