Campus News

Commemorative Print Honors Longfellow's Evangeline and Artist Bryce Muir

Story posted March 03, 2006

The words of Evangeline by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (Bowdoin Class of 1825) and the art of Bryce Muir (1946-2005) have come together in a broadside printed by Applecart Press to benefit Longfellow Days 2007.

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Muir's art work illustrates lines from Longfellow's epic poem, Evangeline.

The pen and color wash drawing by Muir depicts a tree in autumn, its leaves swept airborne by the wind. Muir's image has become a fitting illustration for Longfellow's words describing the 1755 expulsion of the Acadians from Grand Pre: "Scattered like dust and leaves, when the mighty blasts of October seize them, and whirl them aloft, and sprinkle them far o'er the ocean." Longfellow's heroine, Evangeline, transforms her personal loss into service to mankind. Muir's autumn leaves take wing as flocks of birds.

"Bryce was always interested in things transforming," said Peggy Muir, the artist's widow. "He was very moved by birds. He loved all the seasons." Bryce Muir was both "tough minded and positive minded," she observed. Longfellow chose the tough - brutal, even - topic of the Acadian expulsion for his Evangeline, and embodied the spirit of the Acadian people in the tale's hopeful and loving heroine.

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David Wall must hand feed the paper through the letterpress four times to create one broadside.

Applecart Press has produced the Evangeline print using classic letterpress equipment to press the ink into the paper. The four colors of Muir's original required four separate hand-fed passes through the printer by David Wall. Some printers refer to this process as "kissing the paper." Because it is labor intensive, letterpress is now considered to be an art form of printing.

Suitable for framing, the 11"x17" broadside is now available at Bayview Gallery, 58 Maine Street, Brunswick. A limited edition of 100 unsigned prints are priced at $10 each. Also available, on hand-made paper, is a limited edition of 50 numbered prints, signed by Peggy Muir, selling for $50 each. Proceeds will benefit Longfellow Days 2007, which will commemorate the 200th anniversary of Longfellow's birth.

For information about the broadside call Bayview Gallery, 729-5500.

Longfellow Days is a program of the Brunswick Downtown Association and Bowdoin College.

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