Some books are shipped from Amazon, others are found cataloged in libraries, under beds with lost socks, digitized in e-readers, collecting dust on shelves or housed on nightstands. Other books are labored over, crafted with care, written, printed, drawn, sculpted and bound with artist hands.
As part of the 2016 SOAC Focus series on Storytelling, the University Gallery presents an invitational exhibit featuring notable, regional artists whose work utilizes the book. The show will explore the book’s long history as a vessel for stories in new and contemporary ways. “The Story Depends on the Teller: Book Arts in the Pacific Northwest” kicks off March 9, with an opening reception from 5-7pm, and continues through April 6.
“This area has a strong population of readers, and is home to many writing programs, which leads to people wanting to create a book,” Mare Blocker, Exhibit Curator and Visiting Assistant Professor of Art & Design says.
“Most of the book artists I know love to tell stories, and read, and they love the material aspect of this art form.”
The Exhibit will feature more than 20 artists, with several debuting new works. Works will come in different shapes, sizes and mediums; traditional bookbinding will be transformed and will challenge the viewer’s idea of a book.
Book making takes several time-intensive steps. The craft is interdisciplinary in nature, combining new and old technologies, creative writing, carving, illustration, sculpture and textiles.
Mare Blocker describes her process: “I find the papers I want to use, decide if it will be a limited edition or one of a kind piece, pick out a typeface, and/or carve blocks. Maybe it’s letterpress printed and maybe it’s printed in a more contemporary fashion; the text and content usually decide the methods the artist uses,” Blocker details. “After printing, the binding and finishing handwork begin. Each step represents a major investment of time and a commitment to keeping the crafts of storytelling and personal narrative, and printing, binding and illustration by hand alive. Many of us use antiquated technologies like the ones used by Gutenberg, and the same methods are taught in the Art of the Book class at the Elliott Press here at PLU.”
The University Gallery is open Monday – Friday, 8am-4pm and by appointment. The Gallery is located in Ingram Hall on the northwest corner of the Pacific Lutheran University campus.
Robert “Running Fisher” Upham