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The Making of Americans, Gertrude Stein

The entire text of Gertrude Stein’s The Making of Americans is hand-transcribed over a collage based on an 1872 property map of Allegheny City where Gertrude Stein was born on February 3, 1874.

For about six months Gertrude Stein’s family lived at 850 Beech Avenue in Allegheny City, now Pittsburgh– nine blocks from Sampsonia Way where Diane Samuels has lived since 1980.

In Leaves of Grass (text used in a previous work), Walt Whitman reached out from America to embrace the world. The Making of Americans is a shift in point of view, to an American living out of United States, looking in.

Using an 1872 map of Allegheny City, Samuels located the property belonging to Gertrude Stein’s family. The 1872 map reminded her of a traditional American quilt, but instead of patterned fabric pieces there were individual property plots covered with hand-written family names.

Samuels divided the 1872 map into 36 quadrants and remade it, substituting each individual hand-written property plot designation with a section of a hand-written letter from her own family and friends written in many different languages.

Around the border of the work, Samuels transcribed the first paragraph of The Making of Americans:

Once an angry man dragged his father along the ground through his own orchard. “Stop!” cried the groaning old man at last, “Stop!” I did not drag my father beyond this tree.”

-Gertrude Stein, The Making of Americans, The Hersland Family, Harcourt, Brace and Company, New York, Copyright 1934, The Dehnings and the Herslands 

Title: The Making of Americans, Gertrude Stein

Size: 69-1/2″ x 57″ x 3″
Materials: Ink on Twinrocker handmade paper coated with pulverized hybrid rose petals, collaged with facsimiles of letters, Magnifiers, Audio recording, Book Box containing the first edition of “The Making of Americans” (Harcourt, Brace and Company, Inc., 1934)
Photographed by: Laura Mustio (in-progress), Thomas Little (completed)

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