Unusual Materials

This spring, Erika White’s ARTS 196 class, Making Artist Books, includes four sessions in Silver Special Collections. During the first session, librarian Prudence Doherty introduced students to a selection of artists’ books. During the second session, students explored accordion book structures to prepare for an assignment. Last week, again getting ready for a forthcoming assignment, students looked at books that use unusual materials–glass, wood, cloth, metal, plastic, fruit and vegetables, and even soap. After students in teams of two examined more than twenty books, each team selected one book to highlight in this blog post.

For more information about a book, click on its title in the descriptions below. Come to Special Collections to explore our wonderful collection of artists’ books.

Common Threads
Candace Hicks

Image shows the front cover and first page of a canvas book with embroidered text.

Common Threads is one volume of an ongoing series of canvas notebooks filled with hand-embroidered text recording coincidences the artist encounters.

Family Tree
Julie Chen, Flying Fish Press

Image shows one sie of a book made of 12 wooden blocks with text and design elements.Family Tree uses 16 maple blocks with images and text on all six sides to explore family history and relationships. The blocks can be arranged to show a single image with text, or they can be rearranged to change the story.

Ghost Diary
Maureen Cummins

Image shows an open accordion book with text and photographs printed on glass panels joined with metal.

Ghost Diary uses the most fragile material that the students encountered. The text, essentially a memoir based on an 1807 letter of Lt. Col. Jonathon Rhea, is printed on glass panels that are bound together with black metal. Vintage negatives complement the text.

In War 1940-
Karen Boldner, Drew Cameron

Image shows an open book with text printed on one side and six different samples of paper on the other.The pages of In War 1940- are made of paper shredded from military uniforms that were donated by veterans or their families. Each page uses uniforms from a separate conflict, from Afghanistan in the front, to Operation Iraqi Freedom, Iraq-Desert Storm, Vietnam, Korea, World War II in the back.

Daniel Kelm

Image shows the red and black case for Mars, which holds an accordion book, two pamphlets and three metal objects. The accordion book is open to reveal the text "God of War" below the case.Mars includes an accordion book, two pamphlets and three metal objects. A Civil War canister ball, a chrome steel ball bearing, and an iron-nickel meteorite represent what Kelm sees as the three faces of Mars: Military Mars, Scientific Mars, and Celestial Mars. Students spent time transforming the hinged accordion panel into a dodecahedron with stainless steel pins.

Not Paper
Peter Thomas

Image shows several pages of the accordion book, Not Paper, with samples and descriptions of tapa and tyvek.Not Paper includes samples of seven paper-like materials (amate, birchbark, papyrus, parchment, tapa, tyvek, and wasp nest) accompanied by information about each material.

Occupy Your Wallet
Emily Artinian

Image shows three photographs on credit card blanks of protestors at Occupy Wall Street protests.Occupy Your Wallet includes 25 plastic credit card blanks printed on one side with photos of Occupy Wall Street protests in New York, Chicago and Delaware. On the reverse side, along with a magnetic strip, there is a record of the location, the date, events of the day and the weather.

Ordinary Discovery
Nicole Eiland

Image of an accordion book open to show close-up photographs of sliced fruits and vegetables alternating with pages made of dried and pressed kiwi and parsnip slices. In Ordinary Discovery, Nicole Eiland invites the viewer to look closely at slices of ordinary fruits and vegetables, alternating palladium print photographs with sheets of yam, kiwi and parsnip pressed flat.

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