Bookmarking Book Art – Jacqueline Rush Lee, updated (2017)

The First Cut 2015 Transformed Harvard Loeb Library Translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses H7.75" x W5.5" x D6.5" Photo: Paul Kodama In Private Collection, NL
The First Cut, 2015
Transformed Harvard Loeb Library Translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses
H7.75″ x W5.5″ x D6.5″
Photo: Paul Kodama
In Private Collection, NL
The First Cut 2015 Transformed Harvard Loeb Library Translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses H7.75" x W5.5" x D6.5" Photo: Paul Kodama In Private Collection, NL
The First Cut, 2015
Transformed Harvard Loeb Library Translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses
H7.75″ x W5.5″ x D6.5″
Photo: Paul Kodama
In Private Collection, NL

a result of an ongoing series of work started in 2013 in which [she] inserted a sculptural book form into the cavity of a tree to simulate a whorl in a tree hollow. What was initially an artistic, whimsical gesture became one where conditions were set in action, and consequently, over time the books returned to their botanical origins and were gradually subsumed by nature. The books changed state; at first “painted’ by a natural patina of mold in which the colours mutated and muted over time. The forms then became petrified and wood-like, with traces of their former texts still present, but like cultural artifacts: positing how time, changing weather conditions, and insect activity would finally affect the narrative of the original work. As iconic vessels of culture, knowledge, and classification systems, WHORL resonates as an imprint on how we leave our mark on nature, and how nature eventually leaves its mark on us a larger, comprehensive system at work.

Detail from Whorl ("Nestled") 2016 Site-Specific Installation on view September 6, 2016- September 7, 2017 University of Hawaii at Manoa Art Building's Bamboo Breezeway © Copyright jacqueline rush lee 2017. All rights reserved.
Detail from Whorl (“Nestled”) 2016
Site-Specific Installation on view September 6, 2016- September 7, 2017
University of Hawaii at Manoa Art Building’s Bamboo Breezeway
© Copyright jacqueline rush lee 2017. All rights reserved.
Whorl. Transformed Book Sculpture Detail 2014. Part of an Ongoing Project H11.5" x W7.5" x D8" Photo Documentation: Jacqueline Rush Lee © Copyright jacqueline rush lee 2017.
Whorl, 2014
Transformed Book Sculpture Detail, Part of an Ongoing Project
H11.5″ x W7.5″ x D8″
Photo Documentation: Jacqueline Rush Lee
© Copyright jacqueline rush lee 2017. All rights reserved.

In the following commissioned work — based on Ovid’s Tristia — the artist has applied the technique from her 2007 inked series “… when [she] was also working with the sculptural and expressive qualities of paint and sumi-e ink. Referencing page layering, and the earlier faded ink fore edges of [her] Volumes series..this work invokes the meditative through the act of applying ink and obliterating meaning to create new meaning.”

Silenda (Black Sea Book). 2015 (Sister of Nous) Transformed Peter Green Translation of Ovid's "Tristia and the Black Sea Letters." H9.5" x W12" x D6.5." Manipulated Text, Ink, Graphite Photo: Paul Kodama In Private Collection, NL
Silenda (Black Sea Book), 2015 (Sister of Nous)
Transformed Peter Green Translation of Ovid’s Tristia and the Black Sea Letters
H9.5″ x W12″ x D6.5.” Manipulated Text, Ink, Graphite
Photo: Paul Kodama
In Private Collection, NL

The Tristia consists of letters and meditations that Ovid sent to Rome from Tomis on the Black Sea Coast, where the Emperor Augustus had exiled him for what Ovid mysteriously calls his carmen et error (poem and mistake).  Silenda is from the Latin for “mysteries” and “that which must be kept silent.”  The ink-saturated and unfurled pages of Silenda echo the poet’s black despair, the barrenness of exile, and the scarlet edging echoes his bleeding heart.

The sister work referred to in the caption is shown below.

Nous 2014 (There's no why Here) Manipulated Philosophy Book, Ink, Graphite Reason & Responsibility: Readings in Some Basic Problems of Philosophy, Fourteenth Edition. Feinberg & Shafer-Landau H13.5" x W12" x D9" H34.5 x W30.5 x D23cm Photo Paul Kodama
Nous (There’s no why Here), 2014
Manipulated Philosophy Book, Ink, Graphite
Reason & Responsibility: Readings in Some Basic Problems of Philosophy, Fourteenth Edition. Feinberg & Shafer-Landau
H34.5 x W30.5 x D23cm
Photo Paul Kodama

In informal usage, nous means common sense or practical intelligence; in its more formal philosophical usage (from the Greek), it means the mind, intellect or intuitive apprehension. The artist’s alliance of title, technique and material here enriches the work but also presents the viewer of Nous and Silenda with questioning insight into book art.

Since the technique has blacked out the volume’s essays on central issues in metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of religion, philosophy of mind, and ethics, as well as debates over the value of philosophy and the meaning of life, of course there is “no why Here”. Rush Lee is an exceptionally witty artist, so I wonder whether the pun also arises from the absence of a section on Aesthetics in the Feinberg anthology.

But that’s not the main query that Nous and Silenda taken together prompt. Both works are so similar in appearance that they could be mistaken for one another.  For book art in which the innovative technique yields such similarity of works, how should we react to pieces where meaningful distinction is implicit in such differences in the material used that can only be known from labels that may or may not accompany the works?  If we were to switch the labels of these two works, would we “mis-appreciate” them?

I think we would. Despite the close technical similarities of these two works, my reaction to each is enriched by knowing those differences and matching the choice of title of the work to the material used. That is a lesson I would apply even to works titled “Untitled” — the lesson really being to look harder, even beyond the “why”.

Bookmarking Book Art – Jacqueline Rush Lee (2013)

From the artist’s website:

Jacqueline has been working with books for fifteen years and is recognized for working with the book form. Her artworks are featured in blogs, magazines, books and international press. Selected bibliography include: BOOK ART: Iconic Sculptures and Installations Made from Books; PAPERCRAFT: Design and Art with Paper and PLAYING WITH BOOKS: The Art of Up cycling, Deconstructing, and Reimagining the Book. Jacqueline’s work will also be featured in Art Made from Books, Chronicle Press, 2013 by Laura Heyenga. …  She exhibits her artwork nationally and internationally and her work is in private and public collections, including the Allan Chasanoff Book Under Pressure Collection, NY.

The Chasanoff collection connects Lee with Doug Beube, whose work has been noted here. Beube was the curator of the Chasanoff Collection from 1993 to 2011.   In his interview with Judith Hoffberg in UmbrellaVol 25, No 3-4 (2002), he comments on the purposes of Allan Chasanoff, a book artist in his own right, in putting together the collection The Book Under Pressure:

There are a number of ideas that meets Allan’s criteria in acquiring work, of which I’ll try to convey a couple. The first is; the problem of the book to perpetuate information is inefficient, it’s an obsolete technology due to the advent of the computer.  Another premise is; at the latter part of the 20th century the book is being used for purposes other than its utilitarian design. Allan has been working extensively with computers and digital imaging since 1985 and understands that the book is as “an outdated modality”, he’s fond of saying. He’s not interested in the book decaying or in its destruction, nor is he referring to the content of books, artist’s books, production costs, mass appeal or where they get exhibited. His interest is in the book as an antiquated technology.

Lee’s process of kiln firing to transform individual books, as with the dictionary above, strikes a harmonious chord. The kiln does not reduce the book to ash but rather petrifies it.  Another way of exploring “the book under pressure.”   Lee’s and Beube’s work are brought together again by Paul Forte  at the Hera Gallery for an exhibition entitled Transformed Volumes.

 

 

Bookmarking Book Art – Frances Kiernan

Printmaker, photographer and book artist, Frances Kiernan is based in Richmond, UK.  I first saw her work in The Riverside Gallery exhibition (29 November 2014 – 14 February 2015).

All the Prints I Have Made, 2010
All the Prints I Have Made, 2010

… made from the discarded prints during 2010. Rather than destroy them I liked the idea of creating a new piece of work out of damaged and unwanted prints.
The book also serves as a reference to the different processes in printmaking.  (Kiernan)

All the Prints I Have Made, 2010 From "Artists' Books" exhibition at The Riverside Gallery, Richmond, UK 29 November 2014 - 14 February 2015
All the Prints I Have Made, 2010
From “Artists’ Books” exhibition
at The Riverside Gallery, Richmond, UK
29 November 2014 – 14 February 2015
All the Prints I Have Made, 2010 From "Artists' Books" exhibition at The Riverside Gallery, Richmond, UK 29 November 2014 - 14 February 2015
All the Prints I Have Made, 2010
From “Artists’ Books” exhibition
at The Riverside Gallery, Richmond, UK
29 November 2014 – 14 February 2015
All the Prints I Have Made, 2010 From "Artists' Books" exhibition at The Riverside Gallery, Richmond, UK 29 November 2014 - 14 February 2015
All the Prints I Have Made, 2010
From “Artists’ Books” exhibition
at The Riverside Gallery, Richmond, UK
29 November 2014 – 14 February 2015

img_0340 img_0339 img_0337 img_0336 img_0335 img_0334 img_0333

Like this flag book shown, her “Princess Caroline” series vaults over mere craftwork into indelible book art. Her work can be found in collections at the V&A, Kensington and Kew Palaces and the Sanskriti Foundation in New Delhi.

Beyond the Window windows filled with pencilled dreams Princess Caroline was a forward thinking woman with interests in politics, the arts and science. This book represents Caroline’s longing to go out into the world. We imagine her dreaming of a world beyond the window looking out to reach the marvels of the universe. The book was placed in a compartment in the Cabinet of Curiosities. The compartment was lined with mirrors so that the windows appear to be never ending and to help convey how her dreams could never be attained. She contented herself with collecting curiosities that the men brought back from their travels. The windows of this concertina book are handcut. The window panes are covered with Matsuo kozo paper that have been screenprinted from pencil drawings to reflect her dreams. The ‘Maru-chitsu’ wraparound case is screen printed onto bookcloth and can be closed with a Japanese bone clasp. Book commission for the Enchanted Palace Exhibition at Kensington Palace 2010/11.
Beyond the Window
windows filled with pencilled dreams
Princess Caroline was a forward thinking woman with interests in politics, the arts and science. This book represents Caroline’s longing to go out into the world. We imagine her dreaming of a world beyond the window looking out to reach the marvels of the universe. The book was placed in a compartment in the Cabinet of Curiosities. The compartment was lined with mirrors so that the windows appear to be never ending and to help convey how her dreams could never be attained. She contented herself with collecting curiosities that the men brought back from their travels.
The windows of this concertina book are handcut. The window panes are covered with Matsuo kozo paper that have been screenprinted from pencil drawings to reflect her dreams. The ‘Maru-chitsu’ wraparound case is screen printed onto bookcloth and can be closed with a Japanese bone clasp.
Book commission for the Enchanted Palace Exhibition at Kensington Palace 2010/11.

See more of Frances Kiernan’s work here.

Bookmarking Book Art – Eric Gjerde

Specimens, 2016 Close-up of finished pressed page. Laser cut text pressed within 5 layers of bio-paper to form one large single sheet. © Eric Gjerde
Specimens, 2016
Close-up of finished pressed page. Laser cut text pressed within 5 layers of bio-paper to form one large single sheet.
© Eric Gjerde

Specimens is the first of its kind: a book created with a new bio-paper medium made entirely from bacterial cellulose. Its pages were once alive.

The quality of this new paper, which I developed over the past seven years, is its unparalleled strength and transparency. Each sheet is grown in a vat and harvested after several weeks. After processing, many layers — five or more — are laid on top of one another with the text block carefully placed within. Then the entire stack is pressed. The act of pressing these sheets is what gives them their strength.

Trapped forever within the thin lamina of Specimens’ pages is the poetry of e.e. cummings. The challenge of retaining the poet’s complex typographic wordplay required a new approach for placing text. Drawing upon my fascination with Voronoi tessellations — the natural pattern of cell structures in all living things — I created custom software to generate a Voronoi framework that would hold the text in place. The text block was then laser-cut from Korean hanji.

I would like to thank the Jerome Foundation and Minnesota Center for Book Arts for the opportunity and support to explore this exciting new medium. (Artist’s statement)

Gjerde’s Specimens exhibition — November 2016 through February 2017 —  continues in the new tradition of bio art.  One of the earliest and abiding proponents has been George Gessert. Since the 1980s, Gessert and artists/theorists such as Suzanne Anker, Eduardo Kac, Marta De Menezes, the Harrisons and Sonya Rapoport have constituted the bio art and eco art movements.  A collection of his essays appeared as Green Light: Toward an Art of Evolution in the Leonardo Book Series, published by The MIT Press in 2010.

More recently Dr. Simon F. Park’s  The Origin of Species was touted as  perhaps “the first book to be grown and produced using just bacteria”. Presented at the Edinburgh International Science Festival, the small book has pages made of bacterial cellulose, produced by the bacterium Gluconoacetobacter xylinus (GXCELL). Its cover is even printed with naturally pigmented bacteria.

Artist: Dr. Simon F Park The Origin of Species "The small book shown here was grown from and made entirely from bacteria. Not only is the fabric of its pages (GXCELL) produced by bacteria, but the book is also printed and illustrated with naturally pigmented bacteria. " Posted 27 March 2016 Photo credit: Dr. Simon F. Park
The Origin of Species
Posted 27 March 2016
Photo credit: Dr. Simon F. Park

The process underlying Gjerde’s work and its material inspiration — the bio-paper, e.e.cummings’ poetry, Voronoi tessellations and the software-driven Voronoi framework to hold the text block in place — are beautifully explored on his site.

The Voronoi framework is evocative of traditional papermaking technology. Here instead of the “deckle” — the wooden frame holding the mesh on which fibers are caught up from the soupy mash to form a sheet of paper — the Voronoi framework holds the text block between the laminations of the bio-paper.

The union of concept, process and the quality of the work make Specimens an outstanding work.

Bookmarking Book Art – Mary Ann Santin

Australian artist Mary Ann Santin studied at the Adelaide Central School of Art and has exhibited at the State Library of South Australia, the Miele Gallery and Loreto Spring Art Show. Her techniques and themes echo those of Jessica Drenk, Guy Laramee and Georgia Russell.

A5 green, 2012 found encyclopaedia, paraffin wax, dye 21cm x 15cm x 5cm
A5 green, 2012
found encyclopaedia,
paraffin wax, dye
21cm x 15cm x 5cm
"1962", 2012 Sanded work  Found encyclopaedia 28cm x 92cm x 13cm
“1962”, 2012
Sanded work
Found encyclopaedia
28cm x 92cm x 13cm
Spring two, 2012 Books in rubber and glass
Spring two, 2012
Books in rubber and glass

Material investigations were also an important process in the search for the most relevant means to suspend, submerge, and cover-up objects and paintings. Books treated as if they were blocks of wood, paper erasures buried under paint, and print techniques on glass allowed the metamorphosis of forms or objects to embody these ideas of absence denoting presence.

I see my body of work as a positive process of repurposing objects and old paintings that no longer fear the loss of remembrance. That holding pattern between grief and loss remains suspended within memory and our day- to- day acknowledgement of their existence. This sense of quiet melancholy finally gives way to acceptance and permission to start anew.

See more of Mary Ann Santin’s work here.

Bookmarking Book Art – Margot Klass

Margot Klass is a book artist of the northern latitudes.  A studio in Fairbanks, Alaska; another in Corea, Maine.

One of her geographically characteristic works in the “flitch book”. A “flitch” is a cross-sectioned slab of timber. Take two flitches for the front and back of a Coptic-bound book, and you have a flitch book.

Flitch Book
Coptic binding, twig and leather clasp, ivory inlay, approx. H. 4.5″

 

She says that her influences are Kurt Schwitters and Japanese aesthetics. In the works she labels “altarpieces”, I see Joseph Cornell and Georgia O’Keefe as well. Paul Watson’s succinct, 2003 entry on the assemblage technique holds up Schwitters and Cornell as practitioners and makes for an interesting path into appreciating Klass’s art. 

Alaska Book of Hours: Prime – Spring,
27” x 14” x 6” (2011)

 

Reliquary – Open

 

The 2007 bulletin from the Denali National Park and Reserve, where Klass was one of several artists in residence, nicely summarizes her aesthetic:

Margo Klass is a student of aesthetic space who creatively uses light to produce sculptural boxes. She studied Northern Renaissance artists for their use of spaces receding into the distance, and she has been influenced by the interior spaces and exterior landscapes of Japanese temples. During her residence in the park she used sketching, watercolors, and photography.

In 2012, Robert Hannon echoed this in a brief notice and radio interview on the occasion of her exhibit at the Fairbanks Alaska House Gallery. In 2016, the College Book Art Association presented Klass as a “Featured CBAA Artist” and also commented on the impact of medieval art on her work. But her own article from February 2017 provides the second best path to appreciating her work.

The best path is, of course, the work itself, which is well illustrated in that article.

Bookmarking Book Art – J. Meejin Yoon

Absence is a poignant work of book art by J. Meejin Yoon, architect, designer, educator, Professor and Head of the Department of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  A simple video demonstrating the work appears here at the site of the Otis College of Art and Design. This book|object was published by Printed Matter, Inc. and the Whitney Museum of Art in 2004 when Yoon was an Assistant Professor at MIT.

Absence © J. Meejin Yoon, 2004
Absence
© J. Meejin Yoon, 2004

As you hold this small white brick of paper and turn its thick pages, a small pinhole appears on the page. Then two larger square holes emerge, one of which falls over the pinhole. Page after page, the two square holes repeat, creating two small dark wells in the field of white, until on the last page they take their place in the cut-out schematic footprint of the city blocks and buildings surrounding the Twin Towers. What you hold in your hands at the end is an object of art and book of memorial prayer.

Bookmarking Book Art – Colette Fu

12 January 2017 — The Office of Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy’s Percent for Art Program (OACCE) and the Free Library of Philadelphia (FLP) announced the commission of eight tunnel book dioramas from Philadelphia-based artist Colette Fu to be installed in the bookshelves of the renovated Parkway Central Branch.

© Colette Fu Different views of a proposed tunnel book, with different lighting and layers.
© Colette Fu
Different views of a proposed tunnel book, with different lighting and layers.

“For Ms. Fu, the work is three-fold: ‘My hope is to first, emphasize that there is a line of continuity in the book form as it moves from more historic book forms, including movable books, to modern day iPads, cellphones, and Kindles.  Second, I want to give visibility to the field of book arts, and to show that a book can possess interesting qualities beyond its text, specifically through printing methods, paper choice, and the binding.  Lastly, I want to commemorate the book, the library, the artist book, Philadelphia, and most of all the stacks that are being permanently removed from the library.'”

For examples of Fu’s dramatic pop-up book art, visit her blog.

For Fu’s interview with Steve Miller (University of Alabama), download the podcast from iTunes: