Paper, Art & the BookCENTER FOR BOOK ARTS
Stefan Arteni &|
Myriam de Arteni
Anita Lynn Forgach
Ann Corley Silverman
Claire Van Vliet
The book forms a basis for two directions of my work. In "The Books I never Wrote" series, I create shaped pages, sewn together with one stitch. These sculptural works may be hung on the wall or placed on a horizontal surface. The form may be changed by turning, fanning, or rearranging the pages. This series was inspired by the short stories of Luis Borges.
In my head I smell the woods of Spring as I work this paper into a book. It is the softness of flesh, skin, and paper and tho the souls are wooden (trees) the paper images are progressing toward the gossamer guise of creating wings. These lilting trees or human beings flash thru day (white paper) and night (black paper), hoping with the usual wishfulness, to make flight with wings. Get close to the paper, get close to its pores.
The artist's book challenges what a book really is, its function, and its design. It is the combination of the traditional view of a book and an artist's impression of a book as something personal. The traditional view is evident in the codex binding of the Circus Wagon. The more personal aspect is my selection of a visual story in Circus Wagon.
The piece Seeking Christ in the Style of the Song Dynasty continues the tradition of imagery as religious guide. Within a western religious context, the altarpiece has been used historically as a means of explaining visually the stories and parables of the Bible. The primary goal of these paintings on wood was to simply place a face with a name, a scene with an event, and thereby create an environment where one could attempt to imitate those religious actions and ideals illustrated. I have kept the wooden book /altarpiece, but have added as an image the combination of the cross and the soft meditative landscapes of the Chinese masters of the Song Dynasty. These landscapes based on Taoist principles reflect a subtlety that I have often found missing in western religious art.
The idea for creating 36 views of a New York City icon stems from the Japanese master Hokusai's depiction of Mount Fuji. The Empire State Building, my favorite New York City icon, made the kink with Hokusai's work. Marcia Newfield composed poetic commentary for my prints. I enjoyed her "haikus with the left hand" and her whimsical approach which perfectly matched my feeling of the city.
I used papercutting on linseed-oiled paper and created four complete sets of prints, three in color and one in black and white. The paint build up on the matrix gave life to both sides of the plate. I became so attached to them that I decided to make a book of all the matrixes. I printed the poems on vellum so that I could play with shadows and transparency effects during installation. The sequence of the views make each poem readable for more than one image. The accordion binding adds a sculptural effect by playing with emptiness and substance as you walk around it.
My respect and affection for ordinary papers has persisted since childhood, when my researcher Dad and most of the men I knew worked in the paper industry, developing and producing the machine-made papers that passed through our daily lives. Even before recycling became a collective environmental ethic, many a paper bag escaped the trash and stayed in my hands, smoothing, refolding into booklike structures, playing with the bag's nature as a portable container for stuff. Out of the desire to transform the ephemeral and the everyday into something of long term value. In 1990 I began a series of bag books, so far six in number, all one-of-a-kinds or mini-editions of two copies.
GerTRUDES and Trucks presents a series of interlocking dreams exchanged by mail among three bookmakers: Alisa Golden, Val Simonetti, and myself. The book, like the dreams, is largely about grandmothers, including cultural foremothers like Gertrude Stein and great mothers like the tree snake woman in the final dream. The bag as material and handwriting as text medium especially honor my personal grandmother Alice Frost Eppel, a lifelong maker who worked in a spirit of giving with accessible craft processes and common materials.
36 Volumes is a series of books which mark each year of the first 36 years of my life. When opened and placed on a wall, each of the 11" x 8 1/2" books becomes part of a larger picture. I chose a paper with character which could accommodate applications of ink, collage, and water media while withstanding the rigors of functioning as book covers. I chose a hand-made flax paper, broke quality. This paper was exceedingly durable and assumed new character as it was run through the etching press.
Because 36 Volumes required 6 months of work to complete, I needed a paper to sustain my interest by appealing to my visual and tactile senses. The flax broke sheets did both. The finished product effectively integrates the nature of the paper with prints, collage, and calligraphy to tell the quirky stories which sustain me.
This piece is about the intrinsic structure of books, how this structure conveys meaning and how we perceive visual information and its composition. I am interested in how the paper -- the primary structure -- can carry meaning, in and of itself, and provide another layer of content to the finished piece. This is acquired through a passage of time apparent in the scars, discoloration and other traces of age and use, as well as in the markings of my hand. The qualities of the paper also carry with them a cultural significance.
I explore the way these three things: the paper, the illustration, and the text come together to inform each other. Along with my recycling of these components and their historical and/or cultural meanings, I provide a visually reductive, abstract reference to a perception of "the book" and its possibilities.
Nationalism was created on an International Research and Exchanges Board for Scholars Fellowship (IREX) to the Czech Republic. This collaboration with Zdenek Urbanek, noted Czech writer, translator and essayist is selected from one of two portfolios, one of poetry and one of prose, entitled "Words and Hands" "Slova a Ruce" Contemporary Czech Art and Literature Portfolios. Each portfolio in its entirety consist of twenty poets/writers (including President V▀clav Havel) collaborating with twenty artists form the Fine Arts Academy of Prague. The specially written text by the authors is in the original language with English translation - each appears on a separate sheet of paper. "Words and Hands" continues Czech tradition of collaboration between literature and the visual arts and honors the centuries-old tradition of fine paper-making as it is still performed at the Renaissance papermill Velk? Losiny in Northern Moravia. These works highlight the flourishing literary and artistic traditions of Central Europe. The goal is to create a fully integrated graphic work in which text, visual image and paper compliment and illuminate one another. The collaboration thus expresses different voices listening to, responding to, overlapping with and amplifying one another.
The books that I make include unique (one-of-a-kind) volumes and limited silkscreened editions. My motifs include loquacious female figures, quiet wanderings in dream-like landscapes, and feminine biology. I am concerned with structure and create books in a variety of physical forms. Some are cascading accordion books that are six feet tall, while others are more intimate objects which incorporate a variety of materials and media to generate images as well as original texts.
This piece was made during a eight week stay in Venice, Italy in the summer of 1995. The impetus for making a book came from looking at a show of women's artist's books shown at an art academy in the city. The mostly hand-made, painted, xeroxed, molded, etc. assortment prompted me to make a rough-hewn volume out of ubiquitous Italian newspapers. The book is all imagery; text appears only in the form of what is still visible of the various newspapers used.
The book is one object as well as multiple objects due to its pages or compartments. The reader/viewer experiences the whole and segments simultaneously through a language of visual forms and tactile shapes. This intuitive type of communication, as opposed to a more structural formal organization of words and sentences refer to women's ""alterity"". Woman, as other as foreigner (though often fluent and productive in a plurality of arenas) feels and conveys her own language in a subterraneous society, within the dominant male environment.
Pagan Babies is a series of accounts of a fund raising activity used by the Catholic Church prior to and during the 1950's, until Vatican II. The book came into being over lunch with my colleagues at the Wustum Museum. It seems that everyone but me grew up Catholic. Over that lunch, other staff members were sharing pagan baby stories. I asked each of them to write down their memories of the activity and the book resulted.
Oral history has long been an interest of mine and of the press. It seems to me that not enough documentation is done on the small things which go into making each of us an adult human being. My grandmother, who died in the 1980s at 97 years old, used to take me to the backyard of her house, point out her huge mulberry tree filled with purple stained grandchildren and say "Someone must write this down, someone must tell people how it was." Unfortunately, I didn't realize how much I valued what she knew until she died.
My books are the result of a process; an evolution. They begin as concepts and become objects through the execution of cutting and folding. The cutting and folding process alters the sheet of paper, but no piece of the sheet is removed. Thus, if unfolded, the sheet returns to its original state and the viewer can examine how the structure "came to life." Through simple manipulations of the material, new structures emerge.
The paper of this particular book, handmade from linen scraps, reminds me of the adobe which surrounded me in the southwest of my childhood days. My interest in architecture is apparent in the geometry and symmetry of these constructions. Light is also important to me in these structures. As it interplays with the repetitive forms and casts soft shadows onto the pages of the book, new forms are created. My books are continual experiments. As I decide how to cut the signatures and bind them together, ideas for new structures develop. The excitement of finding new structures and patterns, new ways to look at the same thing, inspires me and leads to new works.
This piece weaves my love of linguistics and art together. About 142 examples of written languages from throughout history and from around the world decorate the steps of his tower, one language example per step. The tower, when disassembled, reveals 8 chambers, 7 of which contain vehicles of writing from history: hieroglyphic writing on papyrus, a quipu made out of string, an Australian message stick made out of polymer clay, a Phaisdos disc, also of Polymer clay, a found wooden disc with a Greek-like language and a small book with English text. The book, which has an ancient map (c.1400s) for the cover, contains the text:
Divergent cultures over time
Invented unique symbol and sign
To record ideas, to tally for trade
Now, English prevails, other languages fade
Objets Perdus is an ongoing sculptural investigation into the physical and conceptual nature of the book. The book form brings the element of time into the spatial problem, and the possiblity of reading sculpture simultaneously as pictorial and spatial representation, on a vertical and horizontal axis.
Books 1-7 were created during a one-week residency at Dieu Donn? Papermill in 1994. Discarded industrial forms -- "lost objects" -- were cast into the wet pages and allowed to rust. The seemingly fragile pages, with the positive and negative shapes of each object "trapped" in the folds like fossils, bring to mind books of preserved specimens, which is further enhanced by the organic stains of the bleeding rust. The resulting sheets were stitched into book forms to create time-based visual sequences, engaging the conflicting dialogue between nature and industry.
Virginia Woolf queried what it means to be female; what it means to bear burdens of subordination, accommodation, patterns of lower expectations, rage, even quiet despair. Her life, work and death have struck a resonant cord within me. She chose to own her own death by filling her pockets with stones and walking into the River Ouse. In my attempt to understand that event, I created a series of work paying sculptural homage to her. This piece is part of a series of work dedicated to Virginia Woolf.
...we did talk about Joe Wilfer on several occasions. I told him of Joe's Joycean use of metaphor and expressions the last time Katolin and he and I were together in Racine; the factories, the Indians, the Boy Scout camp and the cedar chest. On the way home, I saw Merlin in the street. He yells, "Come here. What did Buddha say to the hot dog vendor?" "What," I say. "Make me one with everything."
Pickings is a book that was inspired by a beautiful floral hand-made paper I bought some time ago. The book is an assemblage of information regarding flowers that has been designed to include photos, garden labels, and other related items that caught the fancy of this non-gardening artist.
Altar Book for Gorecki was inspired by Henryk Gorecki's symphony No. 3, the "Symphony of Sorrowful Songs," as recorded in 1992 by soprano Dawn Upshaw. Three copperplate engravings from "The Ornithology of Francis Willughby" are reproduced as visual equivalents to the symphony's three movements. The somber coloration of the paper (hand-stained a purple grey, and selectively blotted dry) is in keeping with the mood of the symphony, which was performed in a 1989 concert in Brunswick, commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the Nazi invasion of Poland. Gorecki's inspiration for the piece came when he saw a photograph inscribed into a cell wall by a young prisoner of the Nazi's; four years later, in 1976, he wrote the symphony (with the words of that prayer forming the lyrics to his second movement). With this book -- in its visualization of musical sounds and focus on the original Polish lyrics -- the process comes full circle.
The puppets, covers of the three largest books, the small box, as well as the pages of Part 2 are hand made paper by Chuck Welch (Sand Bar Willow Press), given as a gift to the artist.
A female Don Quixote Donna, has a side kick Sandy. A myth, this tale is the story's sister to the puppet show in the original, "The Adventures of Don Quixote" Box cover 10"h x 12 1/2"w x 2 1/2"d Fractured Tract and Herstory-History Series, misc. media including water color and inks, collage, and found objects, hand made puppets all with unusual hand made paper by Chuck Welch. True to its inspiration, this piece is a parallel read to it. Part 1 is as the 'lost notebook' and an analysis of Cervantes' method; Part 2 is a large re-dramatization of Quixote's dilemma, a recreation of the original story, a drama puppet stage/book. There is also a photocopy flip book addendum showing the motion of the puppets, and 2 small books, plus one small book made of reflective mylar, and finally, a small box with tiny found objects for the puppet stage. The piece is complex and intricate, fun and full of satire, and colorful.
1991 The flip book section, done again larger was created for the collection of the Electrographia Museo Internatione, Universidad de Castella La Manch.
I am incapable of throwing anything away that is graphically interesting. I eat a lot of pasta and have a small studio; something had to be done with all those empty De Cecco boxes.
Like the orobor, the lizard that ate its own tail, Eve's Meditation is an emblem of the snake who knew too much, the persistent link between knowledge and sin. Starting in Eden, we open the face of the snake to examine the fruit it has swallowed. This is Eve, expelled yet unbroken, carrying inside her mind's eye a glittering prize, the painful secret that awareness is more precious than bliss.
Journal is a piece about a specific woman, my grandmother, and her journals. There is a borderland between art and craft where the creativity of many women lives in the knots of their knitting and the pages of their journals. Paper, as a material and as a process, travels that land well. My own art may include many things besides paper, but paper is the heart of it. It is inclusive, accepting of things embedded, receptive to things imprinted, a fluid medium.
Giovanni di Bernardone was born in 1182, at the time of the Crusades, in Assisi, Italy. Also called Francesco, and later known as St. Fransis of Assisi, he was a soldier who, at age 22, turned to a humble and ascetic life after undergoing an inner spiritual crisis. The profound inner feeling of his famous poem, LAUDES CREATURARUM, simple and pure on the surface, reflects Francesco's life of poverty and simplicity. He died in 1226.
This short poem should not be appreciated merely as a cultural artifact from a foreign past, but rather as an instantly energizing work that can be a focus for meditation. To the poem we have added 15 original ink traces (bokuseki) by Stephan C. Arteni. The image is perfect simplicity: it conveys the meaning through archetypal symbols (Jung and Eliade) unimpaired by theoretical reasoning.
The original drawings were executed in Sumi Ink. The ink was manufactured by Boku Undo of Nara, Japan. The paper was made by hand at our special request by Nirma Zarate's "Papel Zepia" mill of Bogota, from the fibers of plants that grow in Colombia, South America. Each folio is made of a different fiber or combination of fibers. The plants used were: rush, cat-tail, agave, esparto, bass, pineapple leaf, plantain, Manila hemp, palm tree, African palm, Cuban palm (iraca), laurel, sansevieria, cotton and formium (an Oriental fiber). The book covers are made of coffee plant and cotton fibers. The poem has been rendered into English by Barbara Carle.
Earth, can we not love you
unless we believe the end is near?
Believe in your life
unless we think you are dying?
This book explores one of the universal activities known to mankind. I wanted the initial appearance of the book to capture the essence of its subject matter. Paper obviously is a most important element - being the paper of the book as well as the paper on the roll. I sought a weight of paper that was reminiscent of toilet paper to do the printing on. I then perforated the squares or pages, as it were, and rolled them onto their roller.
Books are personal. I make them for myself and then hope that others enjoy them as well. They are meant to be held and felt. They are designed to speak "one to one." Even a blank book, made with selected materials, has something to say to a viewer. Hopefully, my books of drawings tell a story to the viewer and to each viewer a somewhat different story.
Images are unique in their capacity to predate language as a form of memory. Like dreams, they contain primitive vestiges of experience, which are sometimes inaccessible to the reasoning mind. I measure a successful piece by the richness and complexity of the meaning it offers, as a formal endeavor and a symbolic artifact. The problem of cultural origins and where they have brought us, a theme which arises in my work, can only be accessed with candor through the investigation of subjective material. The public statement emerges from the darkest recesses of the private domain; they are intrinsically connected.
The titles are a challenge of association. Like the text, they can help to metabolize the feeling of the work, which often comes from a primitive source. An image presents itself like a condition. It is there, it can be studied and labeled, but in the end, perhaps is never fully knowable.
Exhibition curated by Robbin Ami Silverberg of Dobbin Mill, Donna Koretsky
of Carriage House Papers and Brian Hannon.
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