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About Textscapes

What Is It?
Textscapes is a community-based public artwork that was collaborated upon by forty-two participants from the Ithaca New York area representing poets, artists, seniors, families, youth, and community groups. In the fall of 2002 they created a series of poetic texts inspired by surrealist games of chance. They printed their poetry large-scale using vintage letterpress woodtype. From January 23, 2003 to March 28, 2003 the resulting ‘textscape,’ measuring one foot wide and 400 feet long, wrapped the full interior of the Tompkins County Public Library ten feet above the floor.

In October and November of 2002, public artist Jeff de Castro conducted six youth, adult, and senior workshops in conjunction with Kathryn Howd Machan, poet laureate of Tompkins County, other poets, other artists, and up to 48 community participants. The workshops were free to the public and limited to eight people each. Participants produced approximately 350 total feet of hand-printed images and two-line poems on 1 x 9 foot long paper. Each participant was engaged in a group process based on a surrealist game of chance called “definitions”or “questions and answers.” The process involved creative word-play and allowed for surprisingly novel and inspiring results.

After creating the poems in the morning, participants spent the afternoon with professional printmakers Christa Wolf and Craig Mains of The Inkshop. Participants used large scale wood type from the Peter Kahn Collection of type to print their poetry. Each section became a part of the complete work, “Textscapes.”

Who Was Involved?
Project director Jeff de Castro is a public artist registered on the U.S. national roster of community-based public artists. He has received grants and commissions from the National Endowment for the Arts, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, and New England Foundation for the Arts for his public art projects and installations, and he has exhibited nationally and in the Dominican Republic. Poet Katharyn Howd Machan is the new poet laureate of Tompkins County. Her poetry has been published as books and in publications nationally and is the author of a work on poetry and performance. She was a founder of Ithaca Community Poets. Master printmaker Christa Wolf has exhibited her prints in Germany and the United States, and is in numerous collections. Craig Mains has exhibited his prints nationally and locally. Jeff de Castro, Craig and Christa are artist members of the Inkshop Printmaking Center in Ithaca, New York. Christa is one of the founders.

Participants include professional poets, artists, families, community members, and teens including:

Katie Wallace
Amanda Kephues
Chloe Voorhees
Ambika Athreya
Lucy Rose Davidoff
Alyssa Hogan
Ursula Hilsdorf
Julia Pieper
Eric Evans
Lea Schulman
Stan Sledziona
Sarah Sault
Jessie Radcliffe
Tegan Kehoe
Audrey Gray
Davina Wells
Ben Boynton
Kaiser Walker
Uriel Walker
Stafford Smith
Bailey Smith
The Learning Web
Peter Fortunato
John Snyder
Cara Hoffman
Sylvia Taylor
Jacqueline Young
Cynthia Bond
Eric Machan Howd
Ruth Davis
Panda Musgrove
The Girl Scouts
Sarah Delahanty
Jon Slack
Kit Montilla
Sue Schwartz
Karen Hansen
Mary Beth O'Connor
Cory Brown
Robert Klier
Wendy Cleveland
Peggy Billings

Thanks Everyone!
This project was funded by the Saltonstall Foundation, and made possible in part with public funds from the Community Arts Partnership of Tompkins County/NYS Council for the Arts Decentralization Program.

Special thanks to our local donors:

  • Dataflow for scaled enlargement and scanning of Textscapes
  • Lightlink for hosting this website
  • Sheldrake Point Vineyards for providing wine at the opening
  • Larry Clarkberg of elucid8design.com for website design
  • Wickes Lumber for donating construction materials

Also thanks to The Learning Web, The Girl Scouts, and The Senior Center.