SARAH SUZUKI: The image located in the fourth row, at the far right, is entitled Valmor. Ellen adapted an earlier work, in this case a drawing using an advertisement from Ebony Magazine.
ELLEN GALLAGHER: It’s been worked a little bit differently in that it is a print and this is the only time I actually use found material in DeLuxe. Everything else is constructed, printed, made up. But here, the page is bisected and the right half of the page seems to swarm with white eyeballs. And behind that is an actual Ebony page.
SARAH SUZUKI: So you’ve talked a lot about Ebony magazine, and I know you have your own massive collection of vintage magazines. Can you talk just a little bit about what it is that you’re interested in what that specific time period means for you?
The collection starts from about 1936 and runs through to 1972. And I’m especially interested in Sepia, Our World and early Ebony magazines because the editorial voice is so disparate.
There’s a lot of freedom. So you would get a Richard Wright story next to a slasher text next to drag queen balls in Harlem in the forties. And things reported on with a kind of ease and a kind of worldliness that I think you wouldn’t really find in mainstream publications today.
SARAH SUZUKI: In a way, each of the plates of DeLuxe has media material in it but they’ve really been wildly transformed in the process. So even though you may see these snippets of advertisements in the plates, I know from our conversations that they’ve all been totally reworked and that even when you start with something that comes directly from one of these magazine stories, it becomes transformed through the course of the process of making the plate.
ELLEN GALLAGHER: I think what you were saying about them transforming has also to do with the speed. I start collecting the magazines around 1996 and it’s this speeded up way of looking at history, or these stories. And some stories captivate you and some stories, you move quickly through there’s not a fixed way of reading it.