Generation - Artist Book


  • Image of Generation - Artist Book
  • Image of Generation - Artist Book
  • Image of Generation - Artist Book

This artist book was originally made in 2018 to accompany the work in two exhibitions titled Generation. It shares my research into the history, origins and popular perception of six of the many textiles I worked with while making the photographic reliefs in this body of work. Through short essays and collages of reference images, I chronicle my own engagement with these artifacts and the many stories they tell of migration, colonialism, and women’s labor and sexuality.

Second Edition of 200
Each book signed and numbered
32 pages
Unique textured covers made from the gelatin silver photographic paper test-strips and scraps generated by the making of this body of work.


Chosen by Art in America Magazine as a "Best Photography Book of 2018"

What matters to Klea McKenna registers immediately when you take her book, Generation, into your hands. For her, touch is on a par with vision. Surface and image are inextricable. McKenna works in the dark, embossing light-sensitized paper through pressured contact with objects, then exposing the textured sheets to the raking beam of a flashlight. In the past, she has made such “photographic rubbings” using the cross-sections of trees; in Generation, she uses different types of handmade fabrics, from a fringed Spanish shawl to an embroidered Pakistani dress. Some of these photograms are included in the book, along with a text in which McKenna reflects on the material history and intimate use of the textiles. Also included are montages of reference photographs, old and new, ethnographic, cinematic, and vernacular. Like the fabrics, like skin, the book’s cover has a distinct life—the cover of my copy will not look or feel like the cover of yours, since a unique one has been created from the residue of the making of the work for each edition in the limited print run. In case we needed the prompt, the inside back cover is stamped with the directive: FEEL ME.
—Leah Ollman (Art Critic for the LA Times)