Jerry McMillan, Untitled, 1978 [image via]
Jerry McMillian, Torn Bag [image via]
Union Paper Bag Manufacturing Company, 1939
The image above comes from a great article on the MoMA blog published two years ago on the history of the lunch bag. I accidentally found it while looking for Song Dong's installation Waste Not and wondered why I hadn't seen it earlier. I particularly love Charles Stilwell's drawings for the patent in 1889.
David Hannon and Fred Bower made this artist's book for the Echo of the Object exhibition. David is assembling 500 copies and 25 were available at the opening. Each book is encased in an embossed paper bag.
The bag turns converts into the Optimist once opened, complete with painted eyes.
The interior depicts David's paintings in a woodcut format with text. From his artist's statement:
"This series of narrative paintings entitled the Optimist Club explores the complex relationship between the seemingly opposite view points of an Optimist and Pessimist....These observation based paintings have a simple compositional structure to allow the viewer to focus on the interaction of the two sides and the various symbolic elements introduced into each still-life. For the main characters a bronze of Abe Lincoln’s head plays the role of the optimist contrasted sharply by a paper bag head with a mysterious identity as the pessimist. Although both characters in the series oppose one another in superficial ideals humor and insight allow for a closer examination of the truths each stands for."
My favorite painting from this series is depicted above in the book and below in the exhibition.
David Hannon, In the Classroom, 2012
I am enamored with the replication of the landscape pinned to the wall and how as a viewer, we too are forced to wear the mask of the miniature Abe Lincoln when standing in front of the artwork.
Fred Bower's diagrams featuring the mini paper bag and Abe Lincoln bust are both ingenious and charming. The back page includes a blank page to list signs that the reader is an Optimist. I'm not sure if a No. 2 pencil should be included or a Sharpie since many of my memories of writing on paper bags are my Mom's depictions of summer vacations drawn on my elementary school lunches with permanent marker.
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Hannah and I are also working on a collaborative self-published book featuring the lunch bags with the goal of finishing it by winter break. Here's to more brown, wrinkled paper in the immediate future.