Curated by Eileen Ferara
The current exhibition on view at the Visual Arts Gallery reminds us that a book can be a cherished object not only for its story, information or message but as an intriguing piece of art that commands close inspection. Curator Eileen Ferara has smartly assembled a diverse group of artists that has interpreted the book by either altering them, paying homage to a classic, making a statement or re-imagining what possibilities a book can hold. Books are usually mass produced; but artists' books are mostly one of a kind objects removing that aspect, therefore punctuating their individuality and uniqueness. I was curious to see this exhibition for a couple of reasons: I like the work of the artists chosen and am drawn to the idea of a book as a sculptural item. This exhibition is a well-rounded representation of the various ways a book can be viewed that also celebrates the book as object.
Participating Artists in the exhibition are Aileen Basis, Kate Dodd, Asha Ganpat, Jaz Graf, Carole Kunstadt, Winifred McNeill, Ibou Ndoye and David Sandlin.
Upon entering the gallery space, it is hard not to be drawn to the massive installation at the far end created by Kate Dodd. Dodd makes use of the space by hanging her installation "Losing Leaves" through an open stairwell (the piece can also be viewed from above). The majestic piece is made of pages from a set of 1930’s encyclopedia which elegantly cascades and shimmers to the floor. One can’t help but view this as the encyclopedia set’s last grandiose hoorah knowing its ultimate demise into obsoletion.
Kate Dodd "Losing Leaves"
Quietly tucked behind glass, are Carole Kunstadt’s poetic paper constructions. Meticulously crafted, Kunstadt breathes such an airiness into the sliced paged work- it almost seems necessary to encase them or they would flutter away. Her ethereal work speaks to preciousness with touches of gold and plumed paper. The books are splayed out before us revealing themselves not only by their text but through their tactile nature.
Carole Kunstadt "Sacred Poem XXIII
Jaz Graf's "Vestiges of the Old Word" harkens to the past. The tablets lay on the pedestal as sturdy items from long ago that stubbornly refuse to be forgotten. The tablet's weighty front and back covers, sandwich crumpled plain paper suggesting a certain containment. Graf's use of material is simple yet effective. She also displayed books fabricated of rubber that when opened, unexpectedly emulate a sound.
Jaz Graf "Vestiges of the Old World"
The eight artists in this exhibition offer us personal and unique views from colorful, dynamic and fantastical silkscreens by David Sandlin, to honoring classical literature with simple, elegantly rendered ink drawings in a hand-bound book by Winifred McNeill. An interactive book by Asha Ganpat provokes us to think about reality and pushes the definition of books with the inventive "Abrahadabra", a three candle book while Aileen Basis challenges us to reflect on social/political issues with powerful text and image. Cultural connection through color and pattern is Ibou Ndoye's theme along with a wire bound notebook called "Fashion" containing painted over mixed media images. This thoughtful exhibition gives us insight into the various approaches and meanings artists can bring to a common object while urging us to take a closer and well deserved look.
David Sandlin Winifred McNeill Asha Ganpat Aileen Basis Ibou Ndoye