The Island of Rota


Abelardo Morell, Ted Muehling, and Oliver Sacks, The Island of Rota (New York: Library Council of the Museum of Modern Art, 2010). Copy G of 25 deluxe copies. Graphic Arts 2011- in process.


Graphic Arts is the proud new owner of The Island of Rota, a collaboration between the neurologist and writer Oliver Sacks, designer Ted Muehling, and photographer Abelardo Morell (who was recently at Princeton University as a Class of 1932 Fellow in Visual Arts in the Council of the Humanities).


The Island of Rota considers the unique natural history of a particular island in Micronesia. The prospectus notes, “Sacks’s text is excerpted from his book The Island of the Colorblind, which takes its name from its study of a Micronesian island population that harbors an extreme form of color blindness—a handicap for which the islanders are compensated with a heightened perception of pattern, shadow, texture, and tone.”


“… Inspired by Sacks’s observations on color blindness as well as by his description of the plant life of Rota, Morell and Muehling have created a tactile volume in black-and-white and sepia that reconceives the author’s text and responds to his sense of deep geological and botanical time. Morell has made thirteen cliché-verres, images made by hand in ink and plant matter on glass and then digitally printed as photographs. Twelve are bound into the book; the thirteenth is placed loose in the book’s box.”


“…Muehling’s contributions encompass almost every aspect of the book, including the typography, the papers, the structure, and a pair of altered historical maps. A master of metalwork, porcelain, and glass based on organic forms, Muehling designed the covers of the book, the box, and castings of cycads and sea fans in handmade paper for the interior. He also designed a pattern of small apertures for two leaves of the book, to be seen at different angles as the pages are turned.” Click here to see a video of Sacks reading from his book.