Announcing: 'Theorem' by Antonia Contro & Elizabeth Bradfield

Candor Arts is thrilled to announce the forthcoming release of Theorem, a collaborative book by writer Elizabeth Bradfield and artist Antonia Contro. This book will be released this November in a small handmade first edition of 30 copies.

Image © Antonia Contro from  Theorem

Image © Antonia Contro from Theorem

ON Theorem:

Theorem began in the summer of 2017, when Chicago-based visual artist Antonia Contro and poet Elizabeth Bradfield decided to collaborate. Following each other, responding to each other's creations, over the course of two years Bradfield and Contro created a visual, tactile, and lyric experience in book form.

In Theorem, spare images, distilled text, and the resonant space between investigate the legacy of secrets acquired in childhood and held through a life.

The Candor edition is a very limited edition of 30.  Hand-bound, letterpressed, held in a unique wrap, with original hand working of each book, Theorem  represents a subtle yet dynamic conversation between text and image. Because both image and text have their own stories to tell, the two are not often on facing pages.  Rather, the reader must turn a page to move from each to each, then turn back to consider the resonance of what came before, what follows. The book is large—12.5" x 12.5"—and each of its five sections reduces slightly in size.  The effect is a tactile and emotional winnowing.

As soon as they committed to collaborating, the perfect pairing of Bradfield and Contro’s aesthetic sensibilities—rigorous, spare, redolent—began to materialize on paper. Consummate artists with unquestionable command of their separate vocabularies, their barrier-free interplay of words and images provokes associations, connected yet never literal, accessible but fluid. “I’m still trying to map it,” Bradfield writes at some point. Me too.  Just as it should be.

 —Philip Yenawine, art educator and writer, former Director of Education, Museum of Modern Art


Books about self-discovery often culminate in a revelation, which readers may find temporarily satisfying. But what happens after that? In Theorem – which is a wonderful collaboration between Elizabeth Bradfield and Antonia Contro – Bradfield’s words and Contro’s images – open up another possibility. The revelation is not in arriving at a destination but in beginning to map the journey, as well as in recognizing that one’s perspective of past events changes as time goes by. Theorem is not a book where text and image face each other, but where one follows the other, inviting the reader to go back and forth. This going back and forth, this rumination, suggests revelation is to begin rather than to arrive, to search rather than to answer. This is the enigma of being alive and alert. This is what Theorem offers the willing reader – a place to return to in order to set out again and see that the book has changed. 

—John Yau, poet, critic, and curator


Theorem is more than a beautiful book—it is also the opportunity to experience a profound and generous collaboration between an artist and a writer. Images and words reference each other in nuanced ways, creating pathways of discovery that work both backwards and forward across the span of pages. The pages themselves decrease in size as the reader moves on, evoking the sense that the book is naturally evolving in response to its contemplation. In Theorem, superb production values promote a rich and satisfying materiality, even while every decision clearly involved the practice of distillation to essence.

—Martha Tedeschi, director, Harvard Art Museums



Elizabeth Bradfield is the author of the poetry collections Once Removed, Approaching Ice, Interpretive Work and the mixed-genre Toward Antarctica, which pairs her photographs with brief, hybrid essays. Her poems and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, West Branch, Orion and many anthologies. She has been awarded a Stegner Fellowship, the Audre Lorde Prize, and was a finalist for the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets. Founder and editor-in-chief of Broadsided Press, she works as a naturalist locally as well as on expedition ships in the high latitudes and teaches creative writing at Brandeis University.


Antonia Contro is a multi-disciplinary artist whose site-specific exhibitions include Tempus Fugit at the American Philosophical Society Museum, Closed/Open at The Newberry Library, and Descry at the Museum of Contemporary Photography. Contro’s work is in the collections of the American Philosophical Society Museum, Art Institute of Chicago, Block Museum, Davis Museum, Fogg Art Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, ad New York Public Library.