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Frances Jetter

Amalgam: An Immigrant, His Labor Union, and His American Family in Brooklyn

On sale date: October 8, 2024

In a uniquely told immigrant story, visual artist Frances Jetter connects her own life to her ancestors' and their interweaving ties to the 20th century labor movement.

The narrative thread unspools with Abram, a Polish Jew who immigrates to America for economic opportunity and — much like his namesake — takes on a new name, 'Abe'. He is a passionate arbitrator and advocate in his union but an unyielding patriarchal tyrant at home. Throughout, readers uncover the convictions and contradictions that make up the tapestry of his life and so many others.

Amalgam is populated by impressionistic figures, rendered with piercing faces staring down the reader, as if out of an old photograph. Some pages are mini epics depicting the struggle of workers, others are haunting vignettes of abandoned dolls and forgotten friends. It's also a love letter to Jetter's mother, Rose, who hovers in the artist's mind like a ghost — forever impressed upon the stairs, at once ephemeral and pervasive, like Rose's lost paper doll. One's life is not only one's own, but hinges on every other.

Twelve years in the making, Amalgam, true to its name, takes a multimedia approach to its story. Presented as a meditation on memory and legacy, a kind of summoning occurs out of the loving patchwork of linocuts, keyholes, and hinges — and the presence of the dead is felt once again. There is a profound, understated moral power in Jetter's remembrance of loved ones, etching their essences in the same linoleum material that made up the floors of her childhood.


Black and white.
10.8" × 14"