Created by Matt Zoller Seitz
Directed by Judith Carter
“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”
John Brewster Jr. (1766-1854) was one of the most prominent early American portrait painters. His hauntingly beautiful portraits have a directness and intensity of vision that were rarely equaled, as the images in this book attest.
Brewster's portraits have sold astonishingly well at auction, and his work is featured in the collections of prestigious museums, yet curiously little has been written about the life of this deaf artist. Traveling the New England coast to paint the portraits of the merchant class that arose after the Revolution, he lived precisely when a Deaf-World-with its own language, social institutions, and culture-was forming. Harlan Lane, award-winning historian of the Deaf, argues that deaf people are often visually gifted, and that Brewster, as a deaf artist, is part of a long and continuing distinguished tradition.Lane's unprecedented biography both vividly and comprehensively explores Brewster's worlds: he was a seventh-generation descendant of William Brewster, who led the Pilgrims on the Mayflower voyage; he was a member of the Federalist elite; a Deaf man; and, finally, an artist.In 1817, at the age of fifty-one, Brewster attended the first school for the Deaf in America, the Connecticut Asylum for the Education and Instruction of Deaf & Dumb Persons. It's extraordinary to imagine that this was the first time he experienced fluent conversation and real social and intellectual exchange. Yet, as Lane notes, Brewster's ambivalence about this minority reflects the difficult choices confronting many Deaf people, then and now.Including little-known information on the French roots of the American Deaf-World; the Deaf communities of Martha's Vineyard, Maine, and New Hampshire in the nineteenth century; and on contemporary Deaf art, A Deaf Artist in Early America provides a multifaceted glimpse of Brewster, New England history, and the distinctive culture, language, and social institutions of the Deaf in America.
MZS.Press is the online arts bookstore founded by author, critic, and filmmaker Matt Zoller Seitz and directed by Judith Carter. It offers new, used, signed, collectible, and rare books on film, TV, music, photography, and the visual arts. The store was launched in 2019 on a different platform and has expanded to incorporate arts books published by MZSPress's private imprint: titles currently include Seitz's The Deadwood Bible: A Lie Agreed Upon and Dreams of Deadwood, about the HBO Western, and Walter Chaw's A Walter Hill Film.
Our deepest wish is to promote, encourage, and distribute work by small presses, academic presses, and individuals. Extraordinary work tends to get swallowed up on giant platforms like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The store's inventory of nearly 1000 volumes is currently in the process of being reconstructed after its relocation from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Dallas, Texas. The titles featured here are personally selected by a group of curators and advisors, including Seitz, Carter, and an array of critics, artists, journalists, educators, publishers, and arts mavens who are known for their ability to suss out what Seitz's jazz musician dad liked to call "the good sh*t."
“Please. Have mercy. I’ve been wearing the same underwear since Tuesday.”
Matt Zoller Seitz
Critic, Author, Filmmaker, MZS Press Creator
Matt Zoller Seitz is the Editor at Large and film critic of RogerEbert.com; a staff writer for New York Magazine and Vulture.com, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism. His writing on film and TV has appeared in Sight and Sound, The New York Times, Salon.com, The New Republic and Rolling Stone. Seitz is the founder and original editor of the influential film blog The House Next Door, now a part of Slant Magazine.
Seitz has written, narrated, edited or produced over a hundred hours’ worth of video essays about cinema history and style for The Museum of the Moving Image, Salon.com and Vulture, among other outlets. His five-part 2009 video essay Wes Anderson: The Substance of Style was spun off into the hardcover book The Wes Anderson Collection. This book and its follow-up, The Wes Anderson Collection: Grand Budapest Hotel were New York Times bestsellers.
Other Seitz books include the New York Times bestellers The Sopranos Sessions and Mad Men Carousel; TV (The Book), The Deadwood Bible: A Lie Agreed Upon, and the forthcoming The Wes Anderson Collection: The French Dispatch. He is also an interviewer, moderator, and film programmer who has curated and hosted film and TV presentations for the Museum of the Moving Image, IFC Center, San Francisco's Roxie Cinema, and other venues. He is currently working on a memoir about his marriages and a feature-length documentary about his father, jazz musician and composer Dave Zoller.
His hobbies include exotic dancing, moonwalking, and affixing masking tape labels to every food item in the refrigerator, including eggs. He has the attention span of a gnat.