Turning the Page: Contemporary Artists’ Books

October 3 – December 27, 2014

Haslem, Hodge and Education Galleries
Made possible by the HSC Group at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management

Turning the Page: Contemporary Artists’ Books presents the work of eight artists who create works of art in the form of a book. With origins going as far back as English Romantic artist and writer William Blake, artist’s books became a particularly popular art form in the late twentieth century. The artists in the exhibition share an interest in creating art using bookbinding techniques, written language, unusual book forms, and various media including printmaking, drawing, letterpress, and watercolor. Each brings his or her own unique approach to this medium and works in a variety of sizes, from a gallery installation by sisters Meda and Veda Rives to very small books by Karen Baldner.

Several of the works in Turning the Page: Contemporary Artists’ Books reflect Karen Baldner’s experience growing up postwar Germany in a Jewish-German family that had been persecuted during the Nazi era. Bilingual in English and German, Baldner frequently addresses the issues of tolerance, victimization, empowerment, and identity in her work. She explains, “The inspiration to my work is the seeming paradox of opposites. I am interested in dichotomies of all sorts as they live side by side with each other in my own life, in that of others, and in the grander history of human kind: brutality and grace, coarseness and dignity, the beautiful and the grotesque. In my work, each new piece is a kind of alchemic act towards living with this paradox.” Baldner is an adjunct faculty member in printmaking at the Herron School of Art, IUPUI, in Indianapolis.

Andrew Huot uses traditional bookbinding structures, often using woodblock and letterpress printing because of their tactile qualities. He states, “My goal is to make well-crafted artist books and prints that tell a story in a graphic and oblique way. Themes running through my work include commentary on everyday life and the unremarked-upon humor of the day-to-day.” Huot has an M.F.A. in book arts from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. In addition to his position as conservator for the Milner Library at Illinois State University, he teaches bookbinding and conservation for the Library School at the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign.

Sarojini Jha Johnson’s work reflects her cultural background and her knowledge of India as she has experienced it through both travels there and from her parents’ stories about the country. Johnson frequently finds inspiration from the natural world, as in Invasive Plants. Johnson only recently turned to artists’ books as an art form. She likes the medium’s ability to allow her to “explore and focus on themes such as the effects of climate change on flora and fauna.” A professor of art at Ball State University, Johnson has a B.F.A. in drawing and B.A. in French, both from the University of Cincinnati, and an M.F.A. in printmaking from Miami University.

Steve Kostell is an inter-media artist whose artwork spans traditional and experimental techniques in print media, handmade paper, artists’ books, photography, and video. From his work in video, he is fascinated with ways to isolate specific images for use in books. He explains, “The book becomes the logical format for presentation, a way to document the experience that is physical and tangible, a work in and of itself. The book also serves as container for the ephemeral visceral experience of video, creating a vessel to lend further understanding into the work and extend the mode of presentation.” Kostell was recently appointed to the art faculty at the University of Vermont, Burlington, having previously taught at the University of Illinois School of Art + Design. He has a B.F.A. from Indiana State University and an M.F.A. from Arizona State University.

For Turning the Page: Contemporary Artists’ Books, artists and identical twin sisters Meda R. and Veda M. Rives have created a BookEnviron, a gallery installation of a large scale artist’s book that, in their words, “by concept and scale creates an immersion experience for the viewer who enters and explores the space that is shaped by the book.” Their media include printmaking, handmade paper, artists’ books, and BookEnvirons. Meda Rives teaches art at Eureka College in Eureka, Illinois and Veda Rives is Associate Director of Normal Editions Workshop, the print research facility in the School of Art at Illinois State University, in Normal, Illinois.

Book artist Pati Scobey has worked in painting, printmaking, and book arts for more than twenty years. Her home and studio are near Concord, Michigan, where she finds inspiration from nature. She notes, “Approaching my work in printmaking and bookmaking with an attitude of exploration and experimentation, I balance discovery with planning and I work through ideas in a spirit as akin to drawing as to printing.” Scobey’s book production includes one-of-a-kind books, artist’s books, private press books and collaborative projects. She has taught at art colleges across the country and has a B.F.A. in painting from the University of Kansas and an M.F. A. in printmaking from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Bonnie Stahlecker first became interested in creating artists’ books in 1980 while she was studying typography. Her books incorporate word and letter forms, with the content behind the work serving as the driving force. She says, “Since the beginning, I have always thought of books as three-dimensional objects with multiple layers, both physically and conceptually.” She has a B.F.A. from the University of South Dakota and an M.F.A. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. In 2013, she was awarded a Creative Arts Renewal Fellowship from the Arts Council of Indianapolis.

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