Books On Books Collection – Diane Stemper

Universal Sample

Universal Sample
Edition of 4, all copies signed by Diane Stemper. The book consists of etchings and letterpress on Rives BFK paper, and monotype print (accordion / concertina spine) on Arches Cover. Universal Sample is part of a larger series of artist books and prints inspired by Charles Darwin, science and evolution, and specifically by historic specimens found in the Huntarian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons in London. Universal Sample presents a progression from early life forms to a final molecular disintegration. The first image shows an undefined form, teeming with nascent life. The second image features a frog dispersing a multitude of eggs. The images then move to ‘chance order’ – a slight nod to religion and the Christian notion of the Trinity – and to ‘moment decay’ depicting asplayed life form, hinting at its inevitable death. The final images, ‘vestigial,’ depict decomposition and a return to a vague molecular presence. All of the forms are placed within a universal space that is beyond the earthly space that we inhabit. Universal Sample was printed at the Dayton Printmakers Cooperative and bound at Plat 21 Studio.

Compendium of Fact Series

Cell, Original Cell 
One-of-a-kind signed by Diane Stemper. An accordion book made with found text from On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin, and from discarded classroom science texts. Compendium of Fact: Cell, Original Cell is the first in a series of what is now (2019) approximately 100 Cell books created for Compendium of Fact. In 2009, it was part of an installation of 25 Cell books celebrating Charles Darwin’s two hundredth birthday. Cell, Original Cell comments on the notion of heredity, evolution and the structure of living things and how they came to be.
Cell #40
One-of-a-kind signed by Diane Stemper. Repurposed text and pages from a paperback version of On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. Reshaped pages hand colored with watercolor, horse hair and housed in a petri dish. Perfect binding onto linen tapes. Signed and numbered on back. Cell #40 is part of larger series of artist books built into petri dishes entitled Compendium of Fact inspired by Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday and the cultural conversation surrounding evolution.
Bee Ripe Collecting / Cell #7
One-of-a-kind signed by Diane Stemper. Discarded science text, intaglio print, portion of a dried natural wasp nest housed in a petri dish. Bee Ripe Collecting / Cell #7 is part of a grouping of seven petri dish books and is part of the larger series Compendium of Fact. Bee Ripe Collecting was inspired by an old, large Linden tree located on Stemper’s property. Each June hundreds of bees visit the tree as it flowers. Stemper made Bee Ripe Collecting to honor the hard-working bee and the tree that brings bees together each summer. The wasp nest alludes to a bee’s hive and was used in the work for its hexagonal form.

Further Reading

Bookmarking Book Art – in medias res – Diane Stemper, 9 September 2017

Dillon, Pamela. “3-person exhibit takes scientific angle”, Dayton Daily News, 6 October 2012. Accessed 28 August 2019.

Saatchi Art

Staff, “Custom Enclosures: Diane Stemper Artist Books”, Special Collections, Miami University Libraries (Oxford, Ohio), 22 January 2015. Accessed 28 August 2019.

Young, J.M.K. “Diane Stemper – Out of Scale: Artist’s Books and Collections Exhibit, March 25 – May 25, 2013”, Collins Unbound, 27 March 2013. Accessed 28 August 2019.

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