Books as Art Objects

Ross Printing Press ca. 1870

Ross Printing Press ca. 1870

I was an avid reader as a child, and to this day, I love physical books:  their weight, feel,  binding, cover art ….  (There’s a reason people have libraries.)  Sometimes, I’ve gotten more pleasure from handling a book and looking through its illustrations, than I have from reading it.   

Never in a million years would I dream of cutting one up to refashion it as an art object – yet there are artists who do so with fascinating results.  Some of them are on display in the two current exhibitions at the Center for Book Arts where you can see how books are made and re-made. 

Barbara Mauriello, My Month in Colombia

Barbara Mauriello, My Month in Colombia

“Embraced:  The International Community”    showcases the work of several of the international artists who have studied at the Center.   There are a number of books which have been cut apart or refolded or whose pages have been embellished with paintings, embroideries or found objects.  There are books made from unusual source materials, such as  Miriam Schaer’s “My Hand of Egypt” a book literally in the shape of a hand, made from Egyptian newspapers sewn with packing string from the markets in Alexandria, and Steven Daiber’s  book made entirely from Cuban food ration books, sewn together with cord.   You’ll also find simple, elegant goat-skin book covers with gold stamping; books from handmade paper, or with hand-printed text or with drawings made from wooden engravings and linocuts, not to mention books printed using letterpress, intaglio and monotype.  I especially enjoyed John Ross’ “Invisible Cities,” relief prints  from collographic plates depicting the architecture in Italo Calvino’s book of the same name.

Woody Leslie, Understanding Molecular Typography by H.F. Henderson

Woody Leslie, Understanding Molecular Typography by H.F. Henderson

/mit ðə detə/: Source Materials Visualized    presents artists’ books, book-related artwork that  re-interpret and re-contextualize maps, statistics, data sets, etc. Among my favorites are  Ward Shelley’s mapping of “The History of Science Fiction” and Candace Hick’s rendering of the grade school composition book in fabric with hand embroidery.  (In case you’re wondering, the first word in the title of this exhibit is “Metadata” written phonetically).

The Center for Book Arts, which is located in a great loft space at 28 West 27th Street,  offers a full range of courses in book making- from creating the cover and paper to printing the text and images, to binding it all together.  They also host artists talks, readings and discussions throughout the year.  You an find more information here 

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