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THIS IS NOT A BOOK: CH A P TER II


This is Not a Book: Chapter 2 Guston Abright Jody Alexander James Allen Doug Beube Sarah Brown Kim Henigman Bruce Valérie Buess Julie Chen Marie Dern Brian Dettmer

Lauren DiCioccio Jessica Drenk Arián Dylan Andrew Hayes Helen Hiebert Meg Hitchcock Airan Kang Lisa Kokin Vince Koloski

Guy Laramée Jacqueline Rush Lee Sandi Miot Emily Payne Maria Porges Mike Stilkey Danielle Giudici Wallis Vita Wells Barbara Wildenboer

San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art 560 South First Street San Jose, CA 95113 Focus Gallery Opening Reception Sunday, June 5 Members Preview, 1pm-2pm Public Reception, 2pm-4pm


This is Not a Book: Chapter 2 Guston Abright, Jody Alexander, James Allen, Doug Beube, Sarah Brown, Kim Henigman Bruce, Valérie Buess, Julie Chen, Marie Dern, Brian Dettmer, Lauren DiCioccio, Jessica Drenk, Arián Dylan, Andrew Hayes, Helen Hiebert, Meg Hitchcock, Airan Kang, Lisa Kokin, Vince Koloski, Guy Laramée, Emily Payne, Maria Porges, Jacqueline Rush Lee, Sandi Miot, Mike Stilkey, Danielle Giudici Wallis,Vita Wells and Barbara Wildenboer San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art Jun. 5 - Sep. 11, 2016 Reception: Jun. 5, 2016 Front Cover: Guy Laramée,Irazú, 2015 Back Cover: Valérie Buess, Finished Reading, 2013 Photo Credits Jody Alexander: r.r.jones Julie Chen: Sibila Savage Marie Dern: Martin Ledyard Andrew Hayes: Steve Mann Helen Hiebert: Danielle Summer Meg Hitchcock: Guenter Knop Lisa Kokin: Lia Roozendaal Guy Laramee: Alain Lefort Jacqueline Rush Lee - photos by Paul Kodama, Hawaii Sandi Miot: Jay Daniel Photography Direct inquiries to: San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art 560 South First Street San Jose, CA 95113 408.283.8155 All rights reserved.


This is Not a Book: Chapter 2 Each May, for the past eleven years, Seager Gray Gallery has featured the book as a medium for art in their annual Art of the Book exhibition. In 2015, they celebrated a milestone anniversary with Ten Years of Artists’ Books, an exhibition curated for the Brooklyn Public Library. That show forms the basis for this exhibition but with a lens toward altered and conceptual uses of books, in particular, works that explore the form, content and physical presence of books. This presentation continues where the ICA’s 2001 exhibition This is Not a Book left off. Great art often inspires multiple associations. The associations we have with books run wide and deep. This compact object made with paper, glue, ink, thread and cloth is both physically and intellectually appealing. In the hands of artists, it can be transformed into eloquent forms that subvert or recontextualize meanings, replicate patterns found in nature, or make wry commentary on popular culture. Much of the work in this exhibition is culled from the fertile ground of the San Francisco Bay Area. However, it also includes artists from the U.S., Canada, South Africa, Mexico, South Korea, Germany and the United Kingdom. They take up their scalpels, threads, brushes, X-acto knives, saws, drills, scissors, paints and pencils to mine the book both materially and conceptually as a rich medium for fine art. My partner, Suzanne Gray and I are grateful to the entire staff of the ICA for the opportunity to bring these works to San Jose and for their gracious assistance along the way. Donna Seager Guest Curator

This is Not a Book: Chapter 2 is generously supported by the ICA’s Director’s Circle


--------------------Guston Abright Framing the Debate, 2010 oil, paint, wood, mylar 5 x 4.25 x 2.75 in unique book


Guston Abright San Francisco Bay Area

Born in San Francisco and raised in Marin County, California, Guston Abright comes from a family of artists and showed talent in drawing and painting from an early age. He received his BA from the Rhode Island School of Design and resides in the Bay Area after living in New York City. He is a master of oil painting and observation. When asked to create a book for our 2010 exhibition, he ingeniously devised a way to incorporate pure oil painting into a moveable book object by painting on mylar and sliding the “pages� into a highly crafted framework. The translucency of the mylar allows the light to shine through magnifying the exacting detail. Artist Statement Our hands play an integral role in the way we navigate our environment and communicate with one another. They act as visual aids in the presentation of ideas and greatly influence how we interpret and process information. Through rhythm and gesture our hands give emotional context to unfolding dialogue and allow us to empathize with our counterparts. Through tactile feedback our hands allow us to understand and manipulate our physical environment. These versatile organs are absolutely fundamental in shaping how we understand and exist in our world.


--------------------Jody Alexander Ten Exposed Spines, 2010

altered book, cotton, thread, tea 6 x 9 x .5 in (variee) unique book objects


Jody Alexander San Francisco Bay Area

Jody Alexander is an artist, bookbinder, papermaker, librarian and teacher who lives and works in Santa Cruz, California. She makes paper, in the Eastern-style, and uses her papers to bind books with exposed sewing on the spine in a number of historical and modern binding styles. She combines these books with found objects, wooden boxes and drawers, metal, bones, etc. to create sculptural works. Her pieces celebrate collecting, storytelling, and odd characters. She also likes to rescue books in distress and give them new life as rebound books, scrolls and sculptural pieces. Exposed Spines

--------------------Jody Alexander Three Exposed Spines, 2010

altered book, cotton, thread, tea 6 x 9 x .5 in (variee) unique book object

With her characteristic reverence for all things book, Alexander “exposes” the beauty, variation and craftsmanship of book spines, carefully wrapping them in cotton batting and celebrating their natural quality. She has tea-stained the batting, matching the aged colors of the book spines. The works are exquisite and endearing. They spotlight a part of books seldom seen and taken for granted. The term “exposed spine” is one used in bookbinding to describe a book that is bound with the intention of leaving the stitching on the spine exposed. In this case, Alexander removes covers to reveal the book’s decay. The presentation of these objects in a pile in the exhibition gives the work a double edge. Because they are plentiful, the books and their usually hidden spines seem disposable, but by their tender treatment, the artist elevates their higher qualities, deeming them worthy of further consideration.


James Allen Portland, Oregon

James Allen was born in 1977 in Illinois. He earned a BFA from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee in 2000. Currently he lives and works in Portland, Oregon. Allen’s artwork is included in Art Made From Books: Altered, Sculpted, Carved, Transformed, published by Chronicle books in August 2013. His work was exhibited at the Bellevue Arts Museum in The Book Borrowers: Contemporary Artists Transforming the Book in 2009. His Book Excavations can be found in Public collections at UCLA, Johns Hopkins University, Ringling College of Art and Design, and University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. He’s also exhibited across the country in many cities including New York, Chicago and Miami. Allen describes his work as “book excavations.” A book excavation is a sculptural work of art made by transforming various types of old books using precise cuts with a scalpel or knife, carving pages one by one until an astonishing new composition reveals itself. This almost surgical focus of dissecting books results in a wholly new object infused with a graphical history that evolves as the artist exposes each layer of the book while cutting around interesting images or text. Finished book excavations often appear as cross sections of the book, carved to create an alternate universe previously hidden between the covers.

--------------------James Allen Onomatopoeia 2015 book excavation 10.25 x 7 x 1.25 in


Doug Beube New York, New York Trained as a filmmaker and photographer, Doug Beube turned to another narrative form in the late 1970s: books. Focusing on novels, reference volumes, atlases and art monographs, He approaches each text as if it were a body or an archaeological site, as he explains: “Like a physician or an archaeologist, I am driven to examine it, to dissect it, to cut it open, to dig into it. I am compelled to unfix margins, make tomes weightless, empty volumes of their stories and twist a point of view into its opposite.” Through these processes, he turns the books into objects and sculptures, and incorporates their parts into his mixed-media works. Beube both honors and critiques authors, re-crafting their words into works through which he comments on the state of the world. Mask Series Portions of an English dictionary are cut away in the shape of an ellipse. The text block and the spine of the book are removed making it flexible, allowing the pages to be manipulated into different forms. Mounted on the wall the contortion of the book transforms it into the shape of mask. Pulled into a fixed position, the book appears to be tortured, reminiscent of circus contortionists that morph their bodies into impossible shapes or Japanese toys transformed into robotic monstrosities. Metaphorically the form references the misuse of words. Sometimes words get ‘twisted or masked’ either intentionally spoken to deceive or by misunderstanding their meanings.

--------------------Doug Beube Mask Series, 2016 altered dictionary 12 x 7 x 7 in


Sarah Brown West Yorkshire, UK Women’s Work Throughout the history of the bookbinding industry, women have played a clearly defined role in the bindery. ‘Unfeminine’ tasks, such as glueing, forwarding and finishing, were considered shameful for women to undertake, and forbidden in many establishments. Instead, women sewed sections and headbands, reflecting the gender stereotypes that governed their domestic lives. In my experience, a gender divide still exists in many binderies. Women’s Work is an object made using techniques and tools available to women in the Victorian bindery - a needle, thread and bone folder. Additional materials including embroidery rings and corset bones suggest restriction and domesticity. Sarah Brown’s extensive education includes foundation studies at Leeds College of Art and Design, a BA in Embroidery from the Manchester Metropolitan University and a graduate degree in Creative Business Development. Her work is held in the collections at the Tate Gallery in London as well as other international institutions.

--------------------Sarah Brown Women’s Work, 2008

reclaimed paper, silk thread, linen thread, linen tape, corset boning 13.78 x 13.78 x 7.081in

Underpinning her practice is a fascination with the traditional craft of bookbinding and a determination to raise the profile of this declining industry. Brown uses a combination of embroidery, paper folding, cutting and traditional bookbinding. These very repetitive techniques force a real engagement with the materials, typically papers, threads, tapes, cloths and leathers. She strives to create a balance between art and craft, always maintaining an environmentally and ethically responsible approach.


--------------------Kim Henigman Bruce Totums, 2008 altered book with encaustic and found objects 10 x 12 x 1.75 in

--------------------Kim Henigman Bruce Totums, 2008, detail of Totum V altered book with encaustic and found objects 10 x 2 x 1.75 in


Kim Henigman Bruce Alberta, Canada

Kim Bruce’s Totums, five scrolled texts, some wrapped loosely in black waxed linen twine hang on a wall. They are compelling in their tight dense construction and the presence of text. The title comes from “totum pro parte,” which is Latin for “the whole for a part.” It refers to a kind of synecdoche, which when used in a context of language means that something is named after something of which it is only a part. The objects are ambiguous, but might call to mind the five books of the Torah, or native American totems - objects, both large and small in scale, that were created as emblems of the history of a family or clan. Bruce uses books and other found materials with encaustic to create objects that explore issues of identity and gender. While the works might be specific references to her own experience, her intention is to leave them open-ended enough to allow others to bring their own impressions to what they see. Often Bruce’s work explores the dichotomy of early life expectations to conform to a traditional woman’s role and to adhere to prescribed modes of behavior learned in her upbringing, sometimes in conflict with her need for honest creative expression and self-sufficiency. Bruce studied fine art at The Alberta College of Art & Design and The University of Calgary from 1989 to 2002. She holds a degree in Interior Design where she received her diploma from Mount Royal University in 1977. A native Calgarian, she has been published in the New York Times in conjunction with a group show at the R & F Gallery in Kingston, N.Y. and the exhibition catalog from the Grassi Museum in Leipzig, Germany. She has also been reviewed in See Magazine, FFWD Magazine and The Gauntlet. Her work is in the collection of the Alberta Foundations for the Arts and is privately and publicly collected throughout Canada, Australia, and the Netherlands.


-------------------------------ValĂŠrie Buess

Finished Reading, 2013 altered used paperback 8.66 x 6.3 x 5.9 in


Valérie Beuss

Marburg, Germany

For over 25 years, Valérie Buess, a Swiss artist living in Marburg, Germany (near Frankfurt), has exhibited around the world Her favorite materials are recycled paper from old magazines, books and phone directories. Shaped by rolling, collage, sewing and folding, they are transformed into imaginative sculpture, each typically created from a single object. Finished Reading is an egg-like structure created from a repurposed paperback novel. Buess’ works are created through endless rolling, shredding and twisting the pages of books into organic forms -- sometimes resembling corals, sea urchins, or some other mythical creature of the watery depths. The patterns of text are left visible in her pieces. Buess’ work has been exhibited in paper and book exhibitions throughout Europe and the United States. It has appeared in numerous online sites such as This is Colassal, Inhabitat, Design Boom and Culture and Life.


Julie Chen

San Francisco Bay Area FLYING FISH PRESS was established in 1987 by internationally known book artist and book art educator Julie Chen. The press focuses on the design and production of limited edition artists’ books with an emphasis on three-dimensional and movable book structures and fine letterpress printing. Editions range in size from 25 to 150 copies. Work from the press Is known for combining meticulous attention to craft, intricate structural design and inspired artistic vision. Chen’s approach to the artist’s book involves intensive explorations of both form and content. Her work is heavily rooted in the ideas of the book as a physical object and a time-based medium. She views reading as an intimate act in which the reader must be in close physical proximity to the book, can control the pace of reading through the self-directed turning of pages, or equivalent action, and must interact with the book through the manipulation of the book’s physical structure. Chen strives to present the reader/viewer with an object that challenges preconceived ideas of what a book is, while at the same time providing a deeply engaging and meaningful experience through the presentation of her own text and imagery in a purposefully structured format. Chrysalis

--------------------Julie Chen Chrysalis, 2014

handmade artist book 6.75 x 11.75 x 6.625 in (box), 7 x 11 x 7 in (closed book) edition of 50

Chrysalis is an interpretation of the complex and transformative nature of the process of grief. The piece consists of a sculptural book object housed in a box. The book object is held together by a series of magnets and can be opened by the viewer until all the panels lie in a flat plane, revealing an inner book with circular pages that can be held in the hand and read. All content is letterpress printed on handmade paper using photopolymer plates.


--------------------Julie Chen Cat’s Cradle, 2013 handmade artist book 6 x 8 x 1 in edition of 50


Julie Chen

San Francisco Bay Area Cat’s Cradle translates thoughts about the nature of existence from idea to form by employing the book structure itself as a visual/physical model of concepts portrayed in the text. The book as object can be displayed in two distinct ways: circularly or linearly. This dual display feature contributes it’s own conceptual meaning to the book as a whole. Digitally printed on Mohawk Superfine and includes laser cut elements. Carousel structure: 5 spreads, each with 3 layers of overlapping concertina folds with sections cut out to create a 3-dimensional scene. When opened and covers are placed against each other, it forms a star-shaped structure, 11” in diameter. Tie closures. The idea for Cat’s Cradle was generated using the Artists’ Book Ideation Cards by Barbara Tetenbaum and Julie Chen. To inaugurate the publication of this card set, Barb and Julie invited a group of book artists to each make a book that was inspired by a drawing of the cards. The resulting books were shown at the Seager Gray Gallery in Mill Valley In February and March of 2013 as an exhibition entitled “Ideation by Chance”. The cards drawn for Cat’s Cradle included the following: Text: self-generated, Imagery: none, Paper: neutral, Color: least favorite, Technique: digital, Layout: across the fold Structure: Innovative binding, Adjectives: mysterious, spiritual, encyclopedic, organic, lyrical.


Marie C. Dern & Danielle Giudici Wallis San Francisco Bay Area /Redlands, CA

Marie C. Dern has created many books in collaboration with artists and writers she admires. Among them is artist Danielle Giudici Wallis, with whom she worked to create Crow. Marie C. Dern was born and raised in Salt Lake City. She attended the University of California, Berkeley and received a Bachelor of Arts degree. After graduation she followed a course of study at the Sorbonne in Paris. Marie returned to school in the 1980s and received a Master of Arts degree in Book Arts from Mills College in 1986. In 1974, Dern began Jungle Garden Press. Books from the press are found in many collections including the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Mills College Library and the New York Public Library. Danielle Giudici Wallis received her MFA from Stanford where she was recipient of the Murphy Cadogan Grant, the James Borelli Fellowship in Art, the Anita Squires Memorial Fund in Photography and a fellowship from the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Center for the Visual Arts. Her work has been exhibited widely in the Bay Area including shows at Catharine Clark Gallery, SFMOMA Artists Gallery, The Bedford Gallery, Raid Projects in Los Angeles, The San Jose Museum and The California Palace of the Legion of Honor which holds one of her artist’s books in their Achenbach collection. Crow Crow is an accordion book with tree stump binding, letterpress text on mulberry paper, knitted paper bark, piano hinge, drawing on vellum and curved paper replicating the rings of a tree. Danielle Guidici-Wallis explores themes of home and place in her work. --------------------------------------------- Having recently moved from the Bay Area to a small desert town in Marie C. Dern/Danielle Giudici Wallis Southern California, she found a note about a pet crow - lost, sightCrow, 2014 impaired, but willing to come when called - a found poem. handmade artists’ book 9.5 x 9 x 9 in edition of 3


Brian Dettmer New York, New York

Brian Dettmer is one of the leading artists working with the book today. His works have been exhibited internationally in institutions including the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), NY; The Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institute, DC; The Chicago Cultural Center, IL; The High Museum, GA; The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, GA; and the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, VA. In 2014, Brian Dettmer was the subject of a ten year retrospective at the Hermann Geiger Foundation in Cecina, Italy. Dettmer’s sculptures can be found in the permanent collection of several notable institutions including: the Smithsonian American Art Museum, DC; The Art Institute of Chicago Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, IL; The High Museum, GA; The Museum of Contemporary Art, GA; and the Yale University Art Gallery, CT. He has recently lectured at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and The New York Public Library in New York. In 2014, he spoke at the TED Youth conference. Brian Dettmer’s work has been featured in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Chicago Tribune, Art News, Modern Painters, Wired, The Village Voice, Harper’s and NPR among many others. Dettmer’s work appears courtesy of the artist and P.P.O.W. Gallery, New York

--------------------Brian Dettmer To Conquer the Earth, 2013

handmade artist book 6 x 8 x 1 in edition of 50 Courtesy of the Artist and P.P.O.W. Gallery


--------------------Lauren DiCioccio The Grand Century of the Lady, 2013 cross-stitch into found book 21.5 x 13.5 in Courtesy of the artist and Jack Fischer Gallery


Lauren DiCioccio San Francisco Bay Area

In 2005 Di Cioccio started working in “fiber”, using hand-sewing and hand-embroidery to make a body of work that explored the presence, and disappearance, of objects common to day-today life and the relationships we make to them. The materials, tools and time-intensive labor associated with the material conjure opposing feelings of precious and pathetic that these ubiquitous, and often disposable or overlooked, objects possess. As these mementos and artifacts of the everyday obsolesce, her work questions how the loss of their presence is felt, and why. DiCioccio received her BFA from Colgate University and has been awarded residencies at the Headlands in Marin County, the Oberpfalzer Kunstlerhaus in Bavaria, the Vermont Studio Workshop, Kala in Berkeley and many others. She has been a favorite among reviewers and has been written about in Art in America, Fiber Arts Magazine, Art Ltd, the Boston Globe and more. Di Cioccio appears courtesy of Jack Fischer Gallery. In The Grand Century of the Lady, the artist has taken a found book about the history of Victorian women and cross stitched every letter in white. Interestingly, at the time in England women were considered as part of the “domestic” sphere and were not allowed to vote. Ironically, although the work is not specifically a reference to the subject matter, DiCioccio is able to use cross-stitching, the kind of activity relegated to females as a tool for the very self-expression denied to them.


Jessica Drenk Titusville, Florida

Jessica Drenk’s work can be found internationally in private collections, as well as corporate and university collections within the US. Drenk has been the recipient of several awards, including an Artist Project Grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, and the International Sculpture Center’s Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award. Her work has been pictured in Sculpture, Interior Design, and Curve magazines, as well as The Workshop Guide to Ceramics. Her work has recently become a part of the Fidelity art collection and the Yale University Art Gallery. Drenk has an MFA in sculpture from the University of Arizona and a bachelor’s degree from Pomona College where she was an art major. A working artist since 2007, Drenk’s home and studio are currently in Titusville Florida. Cirrossa 2 This piece, a study for the larger wall installations in the Cerebral Mapping series, is crafted from books: cut into thin strips, entwined together and coated with wax. Organic shapes and swirling lines reflect patterns in nature, from capillaries and neurons to rivers and deltas. The sequential logic of the book is dismantled and re-ordered to resemble the beautiful chaos found in the world around us and within our own bodies.

--------------------Jessica Drenk Cirrossa 2, 2015 books, wax 24 x 34 in


Arián Dylan Oaxaca, Mexico

Arián Dylan (Arián Dylan Luján Pinelo), a 32-yearold native resident of Oaxaca, uses scalpels and knives to carve intricate abstract patterns and images into the surfaces of found books and magazines. A graduate of the National School of Painting, Sculpture and Engraving in Mexico City, Dylan has shown his carved books, which he calls “Cavidades” (cavities) in solo and group shows in Chile, Spain, Japan, Canada and the U.S. He received Masters degree in Art and Combined Artistic Languages from the Instituto Universitario Nacional de las Artes in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Dylan’s work was included in Art Made from Books: Altered, Sculpted, Carved, Transformed by Chronicle Books. Order and Chaos Dylan’s Order and Chaos is a perfectly executed chess set created from carved pages of books and binding materials. It is a book object whose “story” involves kings and queens, castles and knights in endless conflict over power and territory. Dylan loves to read. His chess set, an interactive “Game of Thrones” reflects his observations about reading and what the reader brings to the text.

--------------------Arian Dylan Order and Chaos, 2014

carved books and leather binding material 20 x 11.5 x 6 in


--------------------Andrew Hayes Rest, 2015

steel and book pages 13.5 x 11 x 7 in


Andrew Hayes Penland, North Carolina

Andrew Hayes creates sculpture combining book pages with exquisite steel structures. The scale of the work is small, but suggests an epic size in their smooth lines and finely milled finishes. Hayes uses the look of the text, the gilt and colored edges of paper and the aesthetics of stacked pages from books to create his sculpture. The critical tension between the ephemeral and durable is simply and elegantly presented. A turning point in Hayes’ career came during his studies with artist Doug Beube. A central feature of Beube’s teaching about altered-book sculpture is his emphasis on addressing the book formally, as an object to be materially transformed rather than a text to be interpreted, and this premise has fit well with Andrew’s own formal concerns: proportion, scale, texture, color, material, attachment. Andrew Hayes grew up in Tucson, Arizona and studied sculpture at Northern Arizona University. The desert landscape inspired much of his early sculptural work and allowed him to cultivate his style in fabricated steel. After leaving school, Andrew worked in the industrial welding trade. While living in Portland, Oregon, bouncing between welding jobs and creating his own work he was invited to the EMMA collaboration, a biennial event that gathers 100 artists from around the world in the Saskatchewan forest to collaborate This one-week experience was liberating for Andrew and he was encouraged by his fellow collaborators to apply to the Core Fellowship at Penland School of Crafts. During his time as a Core Fellow, Andrew was able to explore a variety of materials and techniques. Hayes has been included in exhibitions and collections at Yale University, Hartford University, the Morris Museum in Morristown, New Jersey and the Mesa Contemporary Art Museum in Mesa, Arizona to name a few. His work is characterized by a combination of extreme mastery of materials and an innate understanding of form.

--------------------Andrew Hayes Swage, 2015

steel and book pages 12 x 9 x 3 in


Helen Hiebert Edwards, Colorado

Helen Hiebert constructs installations, sculptures, films and artist books using handmade paper as her primary medium. She teaches, lectures and exhibits her work internationally, and is the author of the books Playing With Paper, Papermaking with Plants, The Papermaker’s Companion, and Paper Illuminated. She is the vice president of the International Association of Hand Papermakers and Paper Artists. Hiebert is celebrating her 25th year as a papermaker and book artist with a retrospective catalog published on the occasion of the exhibition of The Secret Life of Paper: 25 Years of Works in Paper by Helen Hiebert, a retrospective at the Kalamazoo Book Arts Center and the Waldo Library at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Her work can be found in the collections of over 30 Universiities including Harvard, Yale, and the Library of Congress. Hiebert created the inflatable paper Text Ball in 2006. The text on the ball is a quote from Ezra Pound: “The Book Should Be a Ball of Light in One’s Hand”. The text ball has been exhibited at Donna Seager Gallery in San Rafael, CA, the Paper Bienniale in Cheongju, South Korea, and the Morgan Conservatory of Art in Cleveland, Ohio. It is a testament of the durability and flexibility of paper, requiring only a small fan to expand its 5 foot diameter.

--------------------Helen Hiebert Text Ball, 2006

inflated paper ball 60 x 60 x 60 in


Meg Hitchcock Brooklyn, New York

Meg Hitchcock is an artist living and working in Brooklyn, New York. She received her BFA in painting from the San Francisco Art Institute, and studied classical painting in Florence, Italy. Her work with sacred texts is a culmination of her lifelong interest in religion, literature, and psychology. Hitchcock’s work has been shown in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, London, and Berlin, and reviewed in Art in America, ArtCritical, The New Criterion, Huffington Post, Hyperallergic, and The Daily Beast. Her work was included in “State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now” at Crystal Bridges Museum in Arkansas. In her text drawings Hitchcock examines and dissects the word of God. She deconstructs a sacred text by cutting its individual letters, and reassembles them to form a passage from another holy book. The Koran is transformed into the Bible, the Bible into the Bhagavad Gita, and so on. She discourages a literal reading of the text by eliminating punctuation and spacing; a sentence from one text merges with a passage from another. By bringing together the sacred writings of diverse religions, she undermines their authority and speak to the common thread that weaves through all scripture. Niqab 5: Hymn to Tara A head covering or “hijab” is worn by Muslim women for purity and modesty. A “niqab” takes it even further, covering the face as well. In this work, the artist further mixes spiritual metaphors. The text is the “Hymn to Tara,” a hymn to the Goddess Tara, the Hindu goddess of prosperity. Hitchcock cut the letters from the Koran very much by choice, to bring up the dramatic difference between right-leaning Islam, which covers up the sensuality of women to the point that they can barely see though their veils, and the eroticism/sensuality of Hinduism, specifically the goddess, Tara, who is full-breasted and unashamed of her sexuality.

-----------------------Meg Hitchcock Niqab #5: Hymn to Tara, 2016 letters cut from the Koran 30 x 22.5 in


Airan Kang Seoul, Korea

Airan Kang’s work centers on book-shaped sculptures fashioned out of resin and LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes). For nearly a decade she has been both personifying and objectifying discourse and our concepts of knowledge by simulating libraries, bookstores, and reading rooms. Made with LED devices that emit colored lights programmed to continually change in brightness, hue and intensity, each work fusing the material and ephemeral representations of books. Kang’s Digital Book Project was created as an homage to specific books that are her sources of inspiration. She traveled around the world to visit and photograph different bookstores and famous libraries in order to then recreate each environment as digitized versions of the original places. Each of Kang’s unique book covers are modified appropriations of the original covers rather than an exact replica. Airan Kang was born in Seoul, South Korea, where she earned her BFA at Ewha Womans University, and then later earned her MFA at the Tama University in Tokyo. Her work has been shown in exhibitions including Digital Utopia at Gallery Korea in New York, Vent d’Est at the Sorbonne in Paris, 10 Years After at the Insa Art Museum, Book Project at Keumho Museum, and The Second Seoul International Media Art Bienniale at the Seoul Museum of Art. Kang is currently a professor at the Ewha Womans University in Seoul. She is represented by Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery in New York.

-----------------------Airan Kang Malcolm X, 2013

LED lights, resin encasement, custom electronics 12.25 x 8.25 x 3 in

Gustav Klimt, 2013

LED lights, resin encasement, custom electronics 12.25 x 8.25 x 3 in

Aristotle’s Poetics for Screenwriters, 2013 LED lights, resin encasement, custom electronics 12.25 x 8.25 x 3 in

From the collection of Nion McEvoy.


-----------------------Lisa Kokin

-----------------------Lisa Kokin

Das Kapital (page 98), 2013

Das Kapital (page 226), 2013

thread, lace and linen 37.5 x 21 in

thread, lace and linen 37.5 x 21 in


Lisa Kokin

San Francisco Bay Area Lisa Kokin received her BFA and MFA from the California College of the Arts in Oakland, California. The recipient of numerous awards and grants, Kokin was most recently given the Dorothy Saxe Award from the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco and the Purchase Award from the Richmond Civic Center Public Art Interior Acquisitions Project in Richmond, California. Kokin’s work has been featured in many books and articles including Art Made From Books, Chronicle Press, by Laura Heyenga. Her one person exhibition, How the West Was Sewn was at the Boise Art Museum in 2013. Kokin’s work is often a critique of the socio-political status quo imbued with a healthy dose of levity and a keen sensitivity to materials and process. Sewing and fiber-related sensibilities play a key role in much of Kokin’s work, which she attributes to growing up in a family of upholsterers. Thread, which in the past she used to construct and embellish her work has, in her most recent body of work, become the primary material. Kokin explores irony and memory in her seemingly ephemeral pieces, allowing transiency itself to be immortalized in lasting works of art. Das Kapital Kokin discovered a copy of Das Kapital in Yiddish among the books handed down to her by her immigrant grandfather. Carefully enlarging, transcribing and sewing the text of various pages on found pieces of antique linen and lace, she created what appears to be a ritual cloth. Kokin says, “I began with three random pages, enlarging and reproducing them in a sewn version in my usual labor-intensive way, like a modern-day scribe in a sweatshop of her own making. Although the pieces look as though they might be sacred text, they are not, at least not in the traditional sense. Some would say they are the opposite, given Marx’s thoughts about religion. “For me,” says Kokin, “they are a way of preserving the legacy of my ancestors and affirming the continued life of the book and of a language rescued from the brink of extinction.” Rustle In her solo show at the Boise Art Museum How the West Was Sewn in 2013/14, Kokin took aim at the myth of the cowboy and its use by opponents of reasonable gun control laws, who argue that gun ownership is part of our American heritage. This is slyly evident in Rustle, a vine- and branch-shaped hanging sculpture she created sewing fragments of the Wild West book covers into leaf shapes that cast intricate shadows on the walls. If you look closely, you can make out lurid images and shards of text incorporated from cowboy novels from the 1930s, 40s and 50s, which say things like “would die,” “you kill,” “vengeance,” and “no jail could hold him.” The sensationalized violence from the books is in jarring contrast to the aesthetically appealing horticultural imagery of the work. Prologue In Prologue Kokin explores her current interest in “asemic” writing. The word asemic means “having no specific semantic content”. With the nonspecificity of asemic writing there comes a vacuum of meaning which is left for the reader to fill in and interpret. The series began with Facsimile, Kokin’s one person exhibiton using zipper teeth and thread to duplicate actual pages from dictionaries, historic texts and literature. In Prologue, text lines are made with bunched threads coming from the neat rows of the text blocks sewn on beautiful “pages” of industrial felt, generously large and opened for the viewer to interpret or to simply enjoy the abstracted elegance.


-----------------------Lisa Kokin Rustle, 2013

paperback cowboy novel covers, thread, twine, wire 55.5 x 35 x 13.5 in (detail right)


-----------------------Lisa Kokin Prologue, 2016

thread, industrial felt 24.5 x 33.5 x 2.5 in


-----------------------Vince Koloski The Cabinet of J Alfred Prufrock, 2015

chest of Drawers, laser-etched acrylic sheet, LEDs, clothing, accessories 27 x 24 x 3 in


Vince Koloski San Francisco Bay Area

Minneapolis born artist Vince Koloski has an extensive background in neon sculpture and was an integral part of the original group that founded the American School of Neon and St Elmo’s Gallery. With a dual BA in sculpture and poetry, his interests have always been in combining form and content. For Koloski, creating books that use light to make the images and text marries the symbolic and practical aspects of light. Light in its role as a symbol of knowledge illuminating the symbols which transfer and preserve knowledge is a powerful melding of message and medium. In The Cabinet of J Alfred Prufrock, Koloski has turned the cover of the book into a small chest of drawers with the drawers containing the clothes the artist imagines Prufrock might have worn. (“I grow old … I grow old … / I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled ... I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach”). The clothes are covered with clear acrylic sheets, each of which is etched with the glowing text of the poem. “I’ve always read the poem as the expression of a man who didn’t quite make it, was in the background, was a best friend but not the leading man,” he has written about his project. “He has settled before a life as a secondary character and while he seems to accept it, there is a great deal of sublimated regret.”


-----------------------Guy Laramée Irazú, 2015 carved book, inks, pigments, wax

5 x 11.5 x 9


Guy Laramée Montréal, Canada

In the course of his 30 years of practice, interdisciplinary artist Guy Laramée has created in such varied and numerous disciplines as theater writing and directing, contemporary music composition, musical instrument design and building, singing, video, scenography, sculpture, installation, painting, and literature. He has received more than 30 arts grants and was awarded the Canada Council’s Joseph S. Stauffer award for musical composition. His work has been presented in United States, Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, and Latin America. Laramée begins with vintage books and transforms them into mountains, landscapes and in this case a volcano that bears an unbelievable likeness to the real one, Irazú - at 11,260 feet the highest active volcano in Costa Rica. Multiple associations abound. The volcano stands as a symbol of the stately volatility of nature while the huge Webster’s Dictionary is an apt representation of obsolescence in a Google world. “The erosion of cultures – and of “culture” as a whole - is the theme that runs through the last 25 years of my artistic practice, writes Laramée. His work originates from the concept that one gains true knowledge through erosion, not accretion. “Piles of obsolete encyclopedias return to that which does not need to say anything, that which simply IS.”


Jacqueline Rush Lee Kaneohe, Hawaii

Jacqueline Rush Lee’s work focuses on the book as object, medium and archetypal form. Working to reveal or transform the nature of a book, she is interested in the aesthetic of books as cultural objects that come with their own histories of use and meaning. By using books as her canvas or building block, Lee transforms their formal and conceptual arrangement through a variety of practices in which the physicality and thus the context of the books have been altered. She is interested in creating evocative works that are cerebral with emotional depth. Lee is an Anglo-Irish sculptor from Northern Ireland who lives and works in Hawaii. She has worked experimentally with the book form for more than seventeen years. Her artworks are featured in blogs, magazines, books and international press. She has a BFA with Distinction in Ceramics and a MFA in Studio Art from the University of Hawaii at Manoa 2000. 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, now at the Yale University Art Museum.

-----------------------Jacqueline Rush Lee Anthologia, 2007 - 2008 reassembled, inked, folded, sanded, burnished book

9 x 9 x 6 in from the collection of Jim and Kelly Polisson


Sandi Miot

San Francisco Bay Area Originally from Washington, D.C., Sandi Miot lived in Miami, Florida, for over 25 years before moving to Northern California. She studied Renaissance Art in Italy and France with such noted artists as Jack Beal, Sondra Freckleton, and Fred Wessel. Miot is known in the Bay Area for her work in encaustics, a medium she has mastered. Her work is included in Authentic Visual Voices: Contemporary Paper and Encaustic 2013, curated by Catherine Nash and has been shown regularly at the Marin Museum of Contemporary Art. It’s Coming Undone Sandi Miot’s altered book piece, It’s Coming Undone was the first place winner of the annual altered book exhibition at the Marin Museum of Contemporary Art for which Donna Seager was the jurist. The work is a commentary by the artist on the disappearance of reading from books in the world of kindles and ipads. The pages cascade down with bits of thread and wax giving it a haunting quality. The title “Through a Glass Darkly” on the beginning page, is a reminder that we do not see everything clearly at any given moment. Much is revealed later. This is a kind of “Miss Havisham” of altered books, she the abandoned bride, untouched by any groom and this the unheld book, rejected and waiting while the readers embrace the shiny screen.

-----------------------Sandi Miot It’s Coming Undone, 2015 altered book, wax

9 x 9.5 x 3 in from the collection of Bob and Colette Battaglia


Emily Payne San Francisco Bay Area

As a sculptor and former book artist, Emily Payne likes to take apart old books and mine them for their parts. She finds her books in dumpsters or in the discard pile in local libraries. She recycles the books, once functioning primarily as containers for words, and transforms them into a combination of two- and three- dimensional collaged and sculptural works. In creating Arch 3, she cut and reassembled the rectangular book covers into a puzzle-like form that she glued together as her “canvas.� She creates multi-layered compositions by attaching pieces of book covers, gouache paint and graphite onto these varied paper surfaces. Like all things alive, the aging books she works with are in an ongoing state of disrepair and decomposition. In choosing to work with dilapidated books, she dramatizes and highlighs the natural process of decay as well as the regeneration that this creative process represents. Emily Payne lives and works in Berkeley, CA. She recently completed a collaboration with Berkeley-based fabric and clothing designer, Erica Tanov, and their prints as well as the original artwork that inspired them, can be seen at the Erica Tanov in Berkeley and Larkspur. She will have a solo show of her wire and book sculptures at Seager Gray Gallery in February 2017.

-----------------------Emily Payne Arch 3, 2016 graphite on book boards

34 x 37 in


-----------------------Maria Porges

-----------------------Maria Porges

Calm Calamitously, 2016

Harm Charmingly, 2016

altered book

17 x 14.5 x 2.75 in

altered book

15.5 x 13 x 2.5 in


Maria Porges San Francisco Bay Area

A complicated, lifelong relationship with the printed word lies behind Maria Porges’ exploration of books as both physical material and subject matter. A current primary source—both for sculpture and for collages-- is the library left behind by her grandmother Mary Löw, a citizen of the late Austro-Hungarian Empire who avidly read many English classics translated indifferently into German. These unwanted volumes (printed in a Gothic script now legible to few) are destined for landfill, so their new life as art: whether used as books or as fragments of illustration and text, functions as reclamation of their value and, at the same time, serves as an uncomfortable recognition of the decreasing role of books in a digital media world. Maria Porges is an artist and writer whose work has been exhibited widely in solo and group exhibitions since the late eighties. She received a SECA award from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and has twice been in residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts. A finalist for the Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation Art Writer’s Grant in 2014, her critical writing has appeared in many publications, including Artforum, Art in America, Sculpture, American Ceramics, Glass, the New York Times Book Review, and a host of other now-defunct art magazines. She has also authored essays for more than 100 exhibition catalogues and dozens of scripts for museum audio tours. Porges’ one person exhibition, Shortest Stories and Exhortations took place at Seager Gray in April of 2016. These altered book works are from her Exhortation series.


-----------------------Mike Stilkey Old Man Getting Chair To The Head, 2014 acrylic on discarded books

18.9 x 9 x 6 in


Mike Stilkey Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles native Mike Stilkey has always been attracted to painting and drawing not only on vintage paper, record covers and book pages, but on the books themselves. Using a mix of ink, colored pencil, paint and lacquer, Stilkey depicts a melancholic and at times a whimsical cast of characters inhabiting ambiguous spaces and narratives of fantasy and fairy tales. A lingering sense of loss and longing hints at emotional depth and draws the viewer into their introspective thrall with a mixture of capricious poetry, wit, and mystery. His work is reminiscent of Weimar-era German expressionism and his style has been described by some as capturing features of artists ranging from Edward Gorey to Egon Schiele. His work has been exhibited throughout the United States as well as internationally, at galleries and museums such as the Bristol City Museum in the UK, Bakersfield Museum Of Art in Bakersfield, CA, Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum, Mesa, AZ, Andrea Schwartz Gallery in San Francisco, CA, Kinsey/DesForges Gallery in Culver City, CA, David B. Smith Gallery in Denver, CO, Gilman Contemporary Gallery, Ketchum, ID, and Rice University Gallery, Houston, TX. He has also created numerous large-scale installations internationally, in Turin, Italy; Bern, Switzerland; Manila, Philippines; and Hong Kong and Beijing, China.

-----------------------Mike Stilkey Enthusiasm Makes The Difference, 2007 acrylic on discarded books

22 x 9 x 6 in


-----------------------Vita Wells Unabridged, 2007 salvaged dictionary, electronics, hardware

5.5 x 8.5 x 11.25 in


Vita Wells San Francisco Bay Are

Born in South Texas, Vita Wells emerged from a family of artists and has been creating objects since she was old enough to wield an X-acto knife. Her extensive education includes a Bachelor of Arts from Williams College, a Master of Arts in Religion and Public and Private Management from Yale University as well as a non-degree enrollment at the University of California in Berkeley where she studied Critical Theory. Perception has been a core theme in Wells’ work over the years, particularly in relation to its effect on our capacity to live lives we know to be deeply meaningful. She is interested in the powerful role reading plays in shaping how she perceives herself and her world, and in reading’s contribution, at a most fundamental level, to creating meaning in her life. I’m interested in how reading reaches out into possibility and brings it into my reality. “In Unabridged,” she says “I challenge our Rationalist/Enlightenment legacy, suggesting that we live in a far greater range of being than we habitually perceive.”


-----------------------Barbara Wildenboer

-----------------------Barbara Wildenboer

Proteus Turning into Water, 2015

Medical History III, 2016

altered book

19 x 24 in

altered book

20.25 x 26.75 in


Barbara Wildenboer Capetown, South Africa

Barbara Wildenboer translates content into organic form in her extraordinary carved books. The books, part of Library of the Infinitesimally Small and Unimaginably Large is an ongoing project that she started in 2011. The altered books are made from found books, particularly old books of maps and atlases. The books become both reference and raw material for sculptures and paper installations. Through the act of altering books and other paper based objects the intention is to draw emphasis to our understanding of history as mediated through text or language and our understanding of the abstract terms of science through metaphor. Wildenboer lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa. She obtained a Masters in Fine Art (with distinction) from the Michaelis School of Art at the University of Cape Town in 2007. Before that she completed a BA (Ed) with majors in English literature, Psychology and Pedagogics at the University of Pretoria in 1996 followed by a Bachelor of Visual Arts from UNISA. Wildenboer has participated in group exhibitions and art fairs both nationally and internationally, including South Africa, San Francisco, Dubai and Hong Kong. In 2013 she had her 7th solo exhibition entitled Disjecta Membra at Amelia Johnson Contemporary in Hong Kong. Her latest body of work entitled The Lotus Eaters, opened at The Reservoir at the Oliewenhuis Art Museum in Bloemfontein in 2014 and subsequently toured South Africa. She has been awarded several international residencies such as the Unesco-Aschberg residency (Jordan, 2006), the Al Mahatta residency (Palestine, 2009) and the Red De Residencias Artisticas Local (Colombia, 2011) and the Rimbun Dahan artist residency (Penang, Malaysia, 2013).


San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art 560 South First Street San Jose, CA 95113

Profile for Seager Gray Gallery

This is Not a Book: Chapter II  

Full color catalog of exhibition at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, Jun. 5 - Sep. 11, 2016. Curated by Seager Gray Gallery.

This is Not a Book: Chapter II  

Full color catalog of exhibition at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, Jun. 5 - Sep. 11, 2016. Curated by Seager Gray Gallery.

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