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September 2011

Barton College in Wilson, NC, Offers Exhibit Focused on Book Arts

Barton College in Wilson, NC, is presenting the exhibit, Il Libro: The Art of the Book, on view in the Barton Art Galleries through Sept. 24, 2011.

The exhibition, organized by Barton professors Susan Fecho and Gérard Lange, include the work of nationally and internationally recognized artists and book presses including: Cara Barer, Gwen Diehn, Andy Farkas (Fablewood), Susan Fecho, April Flanders, Gabrielle Fox, Gérard Lange, Marvel Maring (Crying Dime Press), Donald Martin, Scott McCarney, Steven Miller (Red Hydra Press), Sarah Nicholls, Lisa Beth Robinson (Somnambulist Tango Press), Katherine McCanless Ruffin (Shinola Press), Lauren Scanlon, Shawn Sheehy, Robbin Ami Siverberg (Dobbin Books), Dolph Smith, Kathy Steinsberger, Melissa Walker, Jessica C. White (Heroes & Criminals Press), and Dorothy A. Yule (Left Coast Press).

Artworks featured in this exhibition represent contemporary bookmaking trends. The editioned books and one-of-a-kind artists’ books showcase include traditional sewn structures, altered books, sculptural books, broadsides and innovative approaches created in various media including letterpress, handmade paper, printmaking, photography, collage, fiber and ceramics.

Among the exhibited art are three large scaled photographs showcasing the work of Cara Barer of Houston, TX, including Manhattan. These photographs document the evolution of her sculpturally re-purposed books. “I have changed a common object into sculpture in a state of flux,” said Barer. “The way we choose to research and find information is also in an evolution. I hope to raise questions about these changes, the ephemeral and fragile nature in which we now obtain knowledge, and the future of books.”

Artist and author Gwen Diehn is exhibiting three multi-media, one-of-a-kind, layered books, Living Below Sea Level, Imrana, and Ice Fishing in New Hampshire, with stylistic commonalities. The third book, Imrana, juxtaposes boats, of which Diehn described as, “…those most fragile of temporary shelters, with the enormous watery world in which they move. It is about the trust we place in fragile systems and constructions as we set out into unknown places and emotions and experiences.” She is the author of several books, including Simple Printmaking (1999), The Decorated Page (2002), The Decorated Journal (2005), and Real Life Journals (2010), all published by Sterling/Lark.

Andy Farkas, proprietor of Fablewood, is exhibiting Crab, hmmm…, Four Stories, and River. “I have made prints throughout my artistic career, although a more accurate description of my work would be story telling,” Farkas explained. “It is a medium that goes beyond ink, paint, words, and music, of which life itself is a tool, and in its best examples makes active participants of all those involved in the hearing, seeing, reading, telling, or handling.”

Barton College professor Susan Fecho of Tarboro, NC, has two books on view: A Woman’s Work is Never Done, a soft, quilted book of repurposed clothing (printed and dyed cotton, linen, rayon, and silk), and Relative Randomness: 365 Color, an accordion folded book that documents the usage of color terms used in daily news articles with word-cloud designs that utilize the researched colors. “Before I construct a piece, I am constructing its meaning for myself – a story – a matrix of personal, cultural, and archetypal associations within which my assembled fragments will find their place,” Fecho shared. “The works reveal multiple layers of material and meaning.”

April Flanders of Boone, NC, is showcasing works that include Toxic Irritation and Codex Scolex, two artists’ books produced with screen printing, lithography, and collage. Flanders explained that her creative research reflects a commitment to social change. “Through prints, paintings, and installation, I investigate the relationship between what we consume and our collective future,” she added, “Over-consumption is devastating the planet and the human spirit. The consumer diet is out of balance with the needs of the environment, but we continue to treat consumer goods as if they were vitamins needed for nutrition.” Flanders currently teaches full time at Appalachian State University in Boone.

An accomplished artisan in the binding, conservation, and restoration of fine books, Gabrielle Fox, is author of The Essential Guide to Making Handmade Books. On view in the exhibition are her works: Water, Nothing to Wear, Haiku and other poems, and Queen Mab. Fox shared, “A book opened reveals a world each of us interprets individually. We paint our own pictures from the descriptions, and we create our own stories with the visual stimulation of colors and images. It is our very own world to keep, and only if we choose do we share the view or story we have experienced. Books provide us with a space, which can be put aside and reentered when we want to continue the story, remember a person, or express ourselves. What a wonderful thing to share, and what a delightful way to express oneself.”

Barton College assistant professor Gérard Lange, reflecting on his inspiration, said, “Having always been a collector of things – bottle caps, scientific apparatuses, cameras, fabrics, fibers, dirt, and coffee cups to name a few – my eyes are constantly scanning the environment for interesting articles of any sort to add to my cabinet of curiosities. Often articles gleaned from my endeavors are things, which go with sets of items I have amassed over time. But occasionally, something comes along that sends my mind to a purpose I could direct the newly discovered object. This is my primary modus for bookbinding. The three books in the exhibition, Evening News, Hair Reliquary, and Burning Chair Prophesy, are all responsive to an object come across in my travels.”

Marvel Maring is a practicing book artist, creating one of a kind artist books and design bindings. She publishes fine press limited editions under the imprint of “Crying Dime Press.” Maring also serves as the Fine Arts and Humanities Reference Librarian at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Her current position as Fine Arts and Humanities Reference Librarian has impacted her studio activity directly in recent years. She shared that her role as humanities librarian requires her to travel to the National University in León to train a group of jointly appointed Nicaraguan English Department faculty.

“Meeting these faculty members and exploring their literary culture has opened up a magical assortment of folk tales that are visually evocative and literarily rich and compelling,” Maring shared. Interested in the tunnel book structure, which originated in the Renaissance to teach perspective, she was looking for stories that might lend themselves to this format. The folk tales exhibited, The Golden Crab, The Weeping Woman, The Bad Cadejo, and The Good Cadejo, are iconic in the Nicaraguan culture.

Donald Martin of St. Augustine, FL, has on exhibit Book of Nature: Muir and Second Nature Series: Dusky Seaside Sparrow. The latter is described by the artist as an altered book with a hand bound book insert, cast paper, and wood. “This piece is meant as a memorial to the now extinct Dusky Seaside Sparrow,” explained Martin. “The inserted book is an Ethiopian Coptic codex book form that demonstrates the disappearance of the bird through simple cut out shapes.”

Scott McCarney of Rochester, NY, is showcasing two one-of-a-kind altered books. Knowledge in Depth: West to East was originally created for the 2008 Information Is Not Knowledge Project, organized by James Prez with Amanda Thackray and exhibited at the New Jersey City Canco building. Also on display is Pre-Columbian Sacred, which was originally created for the 2010 Information Revisited: The Encyclopedia Britannica Project at the Martin Hicks Gallery, Belskie Museum of Art and Science in New Jersey.

Steven Miller, professor and coordinator of the Book Arts Program at the University of Alabama, is the founder of Red Ozier Press (a fine art press devoted to publishing literary first editions in handmade limited editions). Miller is also the proprietor of Red Hydra Press and the co-director of Paper and Book Intensive, a nationally recognized annual series of summer workshops in the book arts. Miller, exhibiting Lion-froth Crown, has a passion for making books by hand and letterpress printing, as well as teaching letterpress printing and hand papermaking. “Words are the motivating factor in my desire to create a book,” he shared.

Sarah Nicholls, program manager at The Center for Book Arts in New York, NY, has on view Phosphorescent Face Highlighter and The McGinley Paper Company Sample Book of Faults. “My work revolves around the authority of printed language,” she said. “I borrow that tone of authority to explore the comforts and limitations of community: what kinds of things bind people together, and why it is difficult to hold that in place. I am fascinated by the way language can be used to prevent communication as easily as it can be used to foster it.”

Lisa Beth Robinson, exhibiting the book Migration, and Nomad: Orientation is the proprietor of Somnambulist Tango Press where she makes artists’ books (letterpress, papermaking, and printmaking). She describes her books as a visualization of the relationship between language and experience, making connections between disassociated objects and concerns. With degrees from the Johnston Center at the University of Redlands and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Robinson also serves as an instructor at East Carolina University in Greenville.

Katherine McCanless Ruffin, Book Arts Program Director at Wellesley College, publishes limited editions under her own imprint of Shinola Press. Portrait of a Universal One was originally printed in response to an invitation from the Center for Book Arts’ Vandercook Book, in celebration of the centennial of the Vandercook company. Ruffin says, “I set for myself the challenge of printing a portrait of my Vandercook Universal One press with metal and wood type in my studio. The main body of the press is printed from wood type. Franklin Gothic capital Ms and Ws make up the gears on the bed of the press. The press in the portrait is on - the power switch is in the on position, the red light is on, and the rollers are engaged.”

Exhibiting three broadsides, Lauren Scanlon, born and raised in Memphis, TN, currently serves as an assistant professor of visual art at Penn State Altoona. “My recent work uses bed sheet designs as an entry point for investigating the pattern, structure, and impact of a specific line of romance novels that I read when I was very young,” shared Scanlon. “The series was Harlequin Presents. I was about 10 years old when I read them. Both the books and the bed sheet patterns are strategically designed repetitions intended to induce a feeling of familiarity. This familiarity - and associated ease of recognition - can engender a sense of predictability, stability, and safety. But something that’s familiar isn’t always safe.”

Shawn Sheehy, of Chicago, IL, shared, “Artists’ books can uniquely communicate complex narrative concepts through image-based and text-based channels.” Exhibiting two pop-up books, Beyond the 6th Extinction: a Fifth Millennium Bestiary and Welcome to my Neighborhood: A Pop-up Book of Animal Architecture, he further explained, “Within the book arts, I am most attracted to creating pop-ups — I enjoy working sculpturally within the book format. I enjoy the engineering challenge involved in developing intricate dimensional forms that fold flat.”

Artist Robbin Ami Siverberg is the founding director of Dobbin Mill, a hand-papermaking studio, and Dobbin Books, a collaborative artist book studio, which publishes small editions by Siverberg, in collaboration with other artists. Her artwork is divided between solo & collaborative artists’ books and large paper installations. She explained that her work conceptually focuses on word cognition and interlinearity, with an emphasis on process and paper as activated substrate. Exhibited books include: Dustpan, Nightmare’s Resolution, Affidavit, and Proverbial Threads: Series 100.

Now working in his studio in western Tennessee, Dolph Smith, is a professor emeritus at Memphis College of Art. In this exhibition, he has on view, How to Make a Highbred Paper Airplane. Regarding his book art, he explained that he is “currently working with creating unique books as kinetic sculpture. I see the book as a quite animated three-dimensional object with moving parts. A book has 30 pages; I see 30 moving parts, plus the covers. I have found a niche apart from the traditional pop-up. I believe the illustrations in a 3-D object should also be 3-D!”

Kathy Steinsberger of Raleigh, NC, has been a book artist and ceramic artist for over 15 years. Steinsberger’s two books on view, Oh Asia and Tao: Book 1 and 2 showcase glazed clay covers, and handmade and Japanese paper. She has taught book arts classes at Pullen Arts Center in Raleigh since 2008, and she also currently teaches at the Cary Arts Center in Cary, NC, and the Beaufort Arts Center in Beaufort, NC. Steinsberger explained, “I define myself as a potter turned maker of books. Like clay is to ceramics, print, paper, words, and imagery are the concrete aspects of books. The structure of a book shaped like parts of the human heart and held close when reading, represents humanity and life... much as clay vessels mirror the human body.”

Melissa Walker of Seagrove, NC, described her altered book work as being influenced by abstract expressionism and incorporates mixed elements. “I find the intuitive experimentation and discovery involved in creating abstract art very challenging,” she added. “Working with acrylic and collage allows me to work quickly and keeps my artwork fresh and loose. Building layers with collage and adding gestural lines, as well as journaling and stamping, are just some of the techniques.

Jessica C. White studied iron casting as an undergraduate at East Carolina University and, following a stint in book and paper conservation, she earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Printmaking and a Certificate in Book Studies at the University of Iowa. She currently works as a studio artist, teaches workshops, serves an adjunct professor of papermaking and book arts at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, NC, and is the co-director of Ladies of Letterpress. White also is the proprietor of Heroes & Criminals Press, a small printing and binding venture that specializes in fine press and artist books, letterpress prints, and a variety of printed ephemera and chapbooks. The Lost Land and The Bad Sparrow are on display.

Dorothy A. Yule has on view three sculptural books; Memories of Science, A Book for Ian, and Souvenirs of Great Cities. She first started making books while in grade school and eventually earned a Master of Arts degree in Book Arts from Mills College. Yule is fascinated by paper engineering and has created many unusual pop-up and movable books. She often collaborates with her twin sister, Susan Hunt Yule, on books produced under her imprint, Left Coast Press, two of which were published as trade books by Chronicle Books in 2005, Souvenir of New York and Souvenir of San Francisco. Yule teaches book arts at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and has taught pop-ups and movable structures as a visiting instructor at California College of the Artsin Oakland.

As part of the exhibition, Il Libro: Art of the Book, Barton College’s senior Evan Fulks of Wilson will display his artists’ books in the North Exhibition Corridor of Case Art Building.

Also on the Barton Art Galleries’ schedule is Lisa Beth Robinson, proprietor of Somnambulist Tango Press and East Carolina University instructor, who will be the featured lecturer discussing “Marginalia, Mischief, and the Ornamented Book” on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2011, from 3:30 to 5pm. Sponsored by the Barton College Friends of Visual Arts, this event is also open to the public free of charge, and the community is invited to attend.

For further information check our NC Institutional Gallery listings, contact Bonnie LoSchiavo in the Barton Art Galleries at 252/399-6477 or visit (


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