Look up at the sky, and there’s a chance you’ll be able to spot Ursa Major, Andromeda, or even Cassiopeia—certainly the Big Dipper. However, you may have a harder time identifying the Aquila constellation. That’s because, as dual English and history major Lauren Koenig ’20 explains, most of our knowledge of constellations comes from Greek mythology. “Rarely is there any popular literature on the constellation mythologies of Mesopotamia, China, or the ancient Americas,” she says.
As part of her final project for the Typography and Book Arts course offered by the Scripps College Press, Koenig indulged her interest in lesser-known constellation mythologies by exploring the Aquila, an eagle constellation that appears in the astrology of many non-Western cultures. She created a four-inch-square book, titled Fledged, that explores the mythology of the Aquila through five cultures: the Wergaia, an indigenous Australian language group (3,000 BCE), ancient Greece (2,500 BCE), China’s Han dynasty (200 BCE), the Chumash tribe near Los Angeles (1450 ACE), and the Incan empire of Peru (1550 ACE). Koenig produced the book in a limited-edition run of only 15 copies; it features a leather cover and was printedon Rives BFK and Chinese Heather papers using linocuts, with type set in a handset letterpress.
In February, the National Museum for Women in the Arts acquired a copy of Fledgedfor their artist’s book collection. “The fact that my work warranted acquisition by a museum is surreal. Whether or not it is ever displayed, used as a teaching material, or collects dust on a shelf, it’s validating to have someone place value on the work you create,” says Koenig. Fledgedwas also shown at the Art Libraries Society of North America’s book fair, one of the few book-arts-focused fairs in the country.