Printed artist's book of black-and-white and gray images collaged with various pages of journal-like entries in cursive and hand-printed script; bound with staples; 26 pp. (unpaginated)

%C2%A9 May Stevens %2F Courtesy Ryan Lee Gallery

Ordinary, Extraordinary, 1980

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May Stevens produced and published Ordinary, Extraordinary in 1980 in the midst of a years-long exploration of the life and legacy of the Polish-born Marxist theorist, philosopher, economist, anti-war activist and revolutionary socialist Rosa Luxemburg (1871–1919), who was murdered in Berlin by members of a German right-wing paramilitary group in the chaotic aftermath of World War I. The artist’s book explores the correlations and contrasts between Luxemburg and the artist’s working-class Irish Catholic mother, Alice Stevens, as filtered through the artist’s own experiences and political beliefs. Stevens uses an assemblage of reproduced photo-collages and textual narratives to reveal the uniqueness of these two human beings. For the artist, both women were simultaneously ordinary and extraordinary in their own way. Ultimately, the book reveals resonances between these two women who chose very different paths in life, one private, one public, but both worthy of our attention. In this, Stevens noted that she set out to “erode the polarized notion that one woman's life was special and the other forgettable.”

Details
Title
Ordinary, Extraordinary
Artist Life
1924–2019
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2019.152.2
Provenance
The artist, Santa Fe, N.M. (Ryan Lee Gallery, New York); given to MIA, 2019.
Curator Approved

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Printed artist's book of black-and-white and gray images collaged with various pages of journal-like entries in cursive and hand-printed script; bound with staples; 26 pp. (unpaginated)

© May Stevens / Courtesy Ryan Lee Gallery

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