In Ellen Waterston’s verse novel Vía Lactéa: A Woman of a Certain Age Walks the Camino, launched November 15, 2013 by Atelier 6000, the reader joins peregrina (pilgrim) as she walks her way to unexpected answers to many of life’s questions along the ancient pilgrimage route of the Camino de Santiago in Spain. In this fictionalized accounting, the peregrina finds herself not only in conflict with herself, but also implicated in a battle between a caricature of the Catholic church and Camino Woman. The many real and imagined characters met along the Way, the variety of voices, poetic styles and forms, make this collection a provocative and lively promenade.
And just who is Camino Woman?
Waterston states: “It was never my intention to write about my experience, but when I got back to Oregon and was sorting through brochures and mementos of the trip, I stumbled on a map of the ten Camino routes that converge in Santiago. What jumped out at me, looking at that small map, was the stick figure outline of a woman leaping. In that moment Camino Woman was born in my imagination and she wouldn’t let me go. She insisted on being written. Fleshing out her fictional character, as the embodiment of all holy women marginalized by patriarchal religions, allowed me to then create and incorporate other characters.”
And the origin of the title?
The Camino de Santiago is sometimes referred to as the Vía Lactéa, a reference to the fact that the Milky Way is always overhead when walking the Camino. This observation by early day pilgrims inspired the legend that the Milky Way was formed by the dust kicked up by pilgrims’ feet.
The Creation of the Art Book
The collaboration between writer, artist, typographers and book designers has resulted in an elegant, limited edition art book of Vía Láctea featuring 15 original hand‐pulled engravings by artist/illustrator Ron Schultz.
Ron Schultz’s engravings, lithographs and etchings have been exhibited extensively in California and Oregon and are included in many private collections. He has also worked as a book illustrator, landscape designer, technical illustrator, and graphic artist. In earlier years, he was involved in the many aspects of the book business, from publishing to retail. He currently instructs printmaking at Atelier 6000 in Bend.
The book artist draws from a wide range of book structures including scrolls, fold-outs, concertinas or loose items contained in a box, as well as bound books and re-purposed books known as altered books. Combining literature with book sculpture, taking a book and retranslating the pages into form, morphing the traditional outward appearance expands the tradition of the handmade book.
In addition to Ron Schultz’s outstanding print work, the elaborate faux leather book binding and the design and hand set typography by Thomas Osborne of Bend and Sandy Tilcock of Eugene, Oregon make the limited edition of Vía Láctea an exquisite example of the book as fine art.
Atelier 6000 is a nonprofit working studio specializing in original prints and books arts. Located in Bend, Oregon’s Old Mill District, Atelier 6000 has been in operation since 2007. The studio is dedicated to advancing printmaking and book arts as contemporary art forms. Support from private foundations, corporate giving programs, government programs, and generous individuals helps make the publication of Atelier 6000’s books possible.