Living Locally by Erica Van Horn

June 12, 2014

By Nancy Kuhl

Living Locally, by Erica Van Horn; Foreword by Susan Howe. Published June 2014. More information:  Uniformbooks.

Living Locally selects entries from a daily journal written over five years about rural life in and around a farming valley in Tipperary, to the north of the Knockmealdown Mountains. With needle-sharp observation and in plain words, Van Horn makes remarkable what might otherwise have gone unrecorded: the familiarity of neighbours, of animals and of weather, the regularity of the patterns of transaction on roads and in nearby villages and towns, and, from an outsider’s perspective, the unfamiliarity of speech and custom. What results is a human geography whose immediacy recalls earlier local and rural records and enquiries, such as the diary of Francis Kilvert in the Welsh Borders in the 1870s, or Cecil Torr’s recollections from his Dartmoor village, Small Talk at Wreyland. In common with these is a concern with both the colloquial and the vernacular, and the strangeness found in such a concentration of repetition and usage.

Susan Howe, from her Foreword: “…a meticulous field guide of what it means to be an American discovering the embedded, entangled mysteries of being Irish.”

Beinecke Library, Yale University: “Erica Van Horn regularly draws the subject of her work directly from the fabric of her daily life, her domestic and artistic work, the simple household objects at hand, the day-to-day aspects of familiar relationships… Her attention to the ‘everyday’ is also an act of recording that which is most important to her; Van Horn creates work that serves as an aid to memory and acts as a hedge against the inevitable passing of one day to the next… and celebrates the significant but often unnoticed habits and customs of family and friendship, the exquisite qualities of home, the work of making art.”

Retort Magazine: “Erica Van Horn has a remarkable, dry, and moving way of documenting her life and presence in Ireland.”

Artist, writer, printer, and bookmaker Erica Van Horn was born in New Hampshire in 1954.  “The Book Remembers Everything: The Work of Erica Van Horn,” was shown at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale in 2010, where there is an archive of her books and papers.

Collections at Beinecke Library: Erica Van Horn Papers (contact curator); Erica Van Horn Prints; Erica Van Horn Collection Image Guide