Lost in Eternity

Lost in Eternity
Lost in Eternity is an altered book that took me an inordinate amount of time to complete. The book was ripped apart, a window cut into it, and a Nicho placed in the window. I then used pages of Greek text from a small book on Plato’s The Apology of Socrates. I admit that I used these pages because I love the shapes of the Greek alphabet. I added the word Apology (in Greek) and a snippet of Lord Byron, which includes the phrase lost in eternity. I then stained the collage with ochre watercolor, and sealed it with gel medium (because the pages are so thin and fragile). Next, I placed an old pocket watch (which my father would have called a “biscuit”) into the Nicho, and moved it up and down, trying to decide the best placement. I left it on my table and moved it up and down almost every day for over a week…I finally glued it in place, and added the keyhole and eye. Next, I surrounded the space with coral beads from a broken bracelet. “Coral has been used as amulets for thousands of years, and was considered to be very powerful. As with many water symbols it was associated with female energy. The Greek word for coral - korallion - means the doll of the sea. In classical mythology it was said that coral grew from the blood of Medusa. In ancient Rome, amulets of coral were thought to staunch bleeding and protect children from illness. Coral was also used by ancient mariners to protect them when they sailed the oceans.” http://katieojewelry.com/ Although my coral is more of a soft orange color than a vibrant blood red, I like to think that it holds all of the properties mentioned above. As a final touch, and a balancing measure, I added an oval charm with Chinese characters which was given to me by my daughter many Christmases ago. The Nicho has a glass door, and the book opens like a door as well, continuing a story to be completed by the viewer.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Solo Exhibit in Burlington, VT

The Fletcher Free Library in Burlington VT is hosting an exhibit of my altered books and collages through August 13th, 2011. Fletcher Free Library is at 235 College St. in Burlington, VT.

Library hours are :
Monday,Tuesday, Thursdays, Friday, 8:30 am-6:pm
Wednesday, 8:30am-9:00pm
Saturday, 8:30am-5:30pm
Sunday, 12noon-6:00pm

Friday, December 31, 2010

Artist's Statement: Altered Books and Collages

There is a wonderful sense of iconoclastic glee that comes over me when I alter a book. At first, I was very hesitant to work with books – even opening a book wide enough to break the “spine” was difficult. Books have always been a major part of my life – from reading Nancy Drew under the covers with a flashlight as a child to making my own hardbound books as journals. I love books, and along with my husband have a large library which I would never dream of “altering”. My first altered book was an ancient book of poems which was already falling apart. The pages crumbled nicely to the touch. The first rip of papers that I made out of this book made me cringe, but before long I was ripping, gluing, nailing and wrapping. I became an ardent book alterer! The creative possibilities were and are endless, and open for exploration. Books become “reliquaries” for ideas, thoughts and aspirations. They become a place to tell a story of my own. Books are linked to ideas, language, and communication, and the visceral sense of touching, smelling and opening a book cannot be replicated by “Kindle”. 

Working on and with books I like to describe a narrative of sorts – one that the viewer has to complete in the spaces between imagination and cognition. The altered books remain a way to work within the confines of the rectangle while re-imagining a small world. I use a juxtaposition of images from classical art, personal mementos and magazines, containing both secular and religious connotations. Cutting into the front of the book and adding Mexican “nichos” creates a place to add objects – jewels, pearls and talismans.

The collages are similar to the altered books, in that they form a visual narrative, but within a two dimensional space. The addition of stitching using waxed linen thread sometimes becomes the “thread of thought” which holds the visual narrative together. By bisecting images with thread I like to encourage the viewer to look into the spaces in between the images, and contemplate the world that lies there. The books and collages traverse written word, images, printmaking and painting.

Paper is an important part of my work, and some of my paper is hand made in my kitchen, using a blender, white glue for sizing, a screen for drying and left over scraps of thick, luscious printmaking paper. Other papers are from India, Thailand, Italy, Japan and China. Some of the work is covered with a “wallpaper” of text from books – I find that there is nothing more visceral and nostalgic as the natural yellowing of the papers of an old book!  I then apply collaging materials such as photos, words, and found objects. These are glued onto my collage backing, or into an altered book using stiff gel medium. Then water-based mediums – acrylics, gouache, watercolor and sometimes gesso is added, and linen thread sewn into the image. The linen thread is made especially for bookbinding – one runs the thread over a block of beeswax to make it sew through paper more easily. There are snippets of text from the poems of Lord Byron, Spencer’s Faerie Queene, and Plato’s re-telling of Socrates’ Apology. The viewer is given scraps of information, but the completion of the idea must be realized individually. The viewer is drawn into every quadrant of the image, at times needing a magnifying glass to “translate” the image or text. Some of the books can be opened and blank sheets of paper are incorporated to create a sketchbook or journal for the owner. Some of the books are meticulously glued open, and the open, embracing space becomes a place to create a diptych.