Archive | Artist Accolades

Michelle Ray – recipient Gallery Director’s Exhibition Award

Michelle Ray.Three Ships.1

Each year, an artist is selected from the Artists’ Book Cornucopia exhibit for an exhibition award. Past recipient’s of this award include Casey Gardner (2012), Lise Melhorn-Boe (2011) and Sarah Vogel (2010).

I am pleased this year to announce that Michelle Ray is the recipient of the Artists’ Book Cornucopia IV Gallery Director’s Exhibition Award. Her work will be featured in a solo Reading Room exhibition April 18 – June 7, 2014.

Michelle’s work has been included in several group exhibitions at Abecedarian, and most of her available work is in inventory at the gallery. Last year Michelle was awarded an MFA from the Book Arts Program at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. The consistent quality of the work I see coming out of that program is worthy of comment. Graduates of this program invariably produce work that is beautifully crafted, rich in content and effectively balances concept and content through thoughtful presentation and structure choices.

Of the many graduates from that program represented by Abecedarian Gallery, Michelle Ray has been among my favorites since my first viewing of her book The Kashash and the Archivist.

ABC11 Michelle Ray, The Kashash & the Archivist (2)

Much as enjoyed showing and placing this book, I was a bit bereft when it sold out. I had the luxury of musing over it countless times while it was in inventory, and found it warmly rewarding to introduce this book, along with other Ray titles, to my clients. I have continued to ponder its impact on me and have concluded that this title, along with several others Michelle has produced during her brief time in the book arts, remind me of the writing style of Annie Dillard. Annie Dillard with images. High praise indeed.

Ray has just finished up a residency at the Small Craft Advisory Press (a remarkable book arts/printing residency program affiliated with in Florida State University in Tallahasee), where she produced God Created the Sea and Painted it Blue so We’d Feel Good on it.

Michelle Ray God Created the Sea 1

I look forward to exhibiting her work next year.

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Casey Gardner – Books, Printing and Process

Casey Gardner Abecedarian
Casey Gardner, whose work is featured in the Reading Room through June 8, is the recipient of the 2012 Gallery Director’s Exhibition Award.

Gardner is a relative newcomer to the artists’ book field, having begun her study in 2006 at the California College of Art and Craft where she studied with Betsy Davids, Julie Chen and Macy Chadwick. Gardner hit the ground running and has been the recipient of several awards, her work held in dozens of private and publication collections throughout the US. She brings to her personal playing field a varied history, including downhill ski racing, extensive travel (supported by a variety of jobs, such as working in book stores), and a long stint in journalism. She now supports her book arts habit with work as a graphic designer at C+O Design.

Gardner etiquette 1a
Books, Printing and Process includes copies of all of her letterpress printed book editions to date, including her very first A Brief Encounter with Etiquette. Three of the ten books on display have garnered awards (Body of Inquiry, 2nd place SanDiego Book Arts Competition; I Wondered What it Might Ignite, Stephen Corey Award, Pacific Center for Book Arts and Why Go, Beyond Question, Winner of California College of the Arts Book Arts Award). In 2012 she was given the University of Washington’s Emerging Artist Award.

During Casey’s visit last week, I reveled in the chance to learn more about her multi-layered process. I learned, for example, that the spark for Body of Inquiry came decades before she had any inkling that she would enter the book arts field . While working as bookkeeper at a community school, she met and was enchanted by Edmund Scientific’s Torso Woman. She bought a Torso Woman of her own and carried it with her from that point forward. A version Torso Woman now lives front and center in Body of Inquiry – in Gardner’s version, she holds a codex that tells the story of a scientific journey inspired by her Edmund models.
Casey Gardner Torso woman

Casey has generously put on display various project notes, models and maquettes for her three most recent projects, Threshold, Body of Inquiry and HereSay (a collaboration with Nancy O’Banion). So although gallery visitors won’t have a chance to be charmed by Casey ‘in the flesh’ they will at least have a glimpse of the processes that take a small pencil sketch through multiple models and iterations and results in the finished Body of Inquiry.
Casey Gardner Body model
Casey Gardner Body models

Another maquette, for Threshold, shows how Casey works out the writing for her artists’ books. The maquette is accompanied by a hand-written note that states:

This maquette of Threshold shows a good example of HOW I write. In write in space. I don’t really begin to put words down until I know the context they will live in. Then I get all my ideas into that space and see how they feel and look and get along, and I distill and root around for the right words and clarify until I understand what it is I am trying to say. It’s a geographical process for me. I realize now why Journalism didn’t quite suite me: because all the words were always in columns.

Casey Gardner Threshold writing
Regarding process Casey states:

When I see the drafts and tentative models I have made for a project, I am curiously reassured. I see that though there isn’t a map to follow, eventually I arrive at my destination, and along the way, I visit regions never imagined. It is liberating to see the vast veering and experimentation as I search for a way to convey my ideas in book form.
In my work, I pursue pathways that may lead nowhere. Yet, as I try various trajectories, I experiment with the capabilities of materials, the evocations of form, the moods of language, and the interactions of color. This process distills my vision and tells me in tiny increments, where I am going in the work.
There are words everywhere on my drafts: notes to myself and questions about the story, the content, movement, sequence & desires. Language offers many divergent paths of meaning; its abstract and concrete qualities suggest borderlines to explore. My work is often instigated by the mutability of language+interpretation in various spatial contexts and frames of reference.
As I work, I search with uncertainty for some envisioned, yet unknown territory. This is why I make art — for the discoveries that occur amidst the journey of making. In my work, I desire to leave space for the reader to make their own discoveries.

Also on view are prints from Body of Inquiry, Threshold and HereSay. Click here for a partial listing of available works. Other works are available; please contact the gallery for details.

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Photo Book Works Exhibition Award – Amandine Nabarra-Piomelli

Amandine Nabarra Piomelli Memories of Egypt1a

This year’s Gallery Director’s Exhibition Award for the Photo Book Works exhibit is awarded to a Amandine Nabarra-Piomelli. Amandine’s work will be featured in a solo exhibition in the gallery’s Reading Room in 2014.

In addition to working with the book form, Amandine works in photography and installation. She embraces the fact that the artists’ book can bring physical movement and create a tension to otherwise static images. Her work in both installation and books creates an interactive opportunity for her audience to view her photographs.

Amandine Nabarra-Piomelli lost and found2

Her work is primarily narrative; her image based narratives not text dependent. She photographs from a stance of curiosity about individual identities and how we all navigate through our world. Amandine’s skill is in presenting navigations not only in the physical realm, but in the realms of spirit, emotion, psychology and body. These visual journeys combine a poetic and documentary sensibility, each image contributing to a a story that may span across multiple projects or series. Amandine is skillful in drawing connection between people, places and objects in unexpected ways allowing her narratives to be both linear and fragmented.

Amandine Nabarra-Piomelli caretaker 2

Amandine treats the structure of her work as integral to the narrative, choosing supports that convert the concept of her projects. She is a gifted photographer and skillful craftswoman.

Amandine lives both in California and Italy. She has attained international recognition, exhibiting in the US, throughout Europe and Australia, with works held in prominent international collections such as Le Centre Pompidou in France, the Art Institute of Chicago and Bibliotheca Librorum Apud Aritificem, in Sydney, Australia.

Last year she was recipient of the Masquelibros prize in Madrid, Spain and Familiar Relics award in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. It is an honor and a pleasure to exhibit Amandine’s work and we are looking forward to seeing what shape her Reading Room installation will take.

You can learn more about her individual book works here.

Modest in Scale award recipient Wendy Kowynia

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Mixed-media artist Wendy Kowynia is one of four recipients of the Modest in Scale exhibition awards. Included in the exhibit are two pieces from her Iterations Series. In this work Wendy explores material, technique, and technology. She is using paper yarns of linen, bamboo, pine and silk, painted and dyed that are knotted, woven, twined and laced on a loom.

Iteration is the essential act of weaving; to do again and again and again, with each completion coming more closely to the desired result. Wendy finds solace in this requirement of her chosen medium: the work evolves out of this simple dedication to repetition.

About her work Wendy says:

As an artist working in textiles, my work has an inherent element of surface; I create the surface, and the surface becomes the art. The Iteration Series is woven in linen, the painter’s traditional canvas.

W.Kowynia_Iter11

Iteration 11 is painted with oil stick on the warp threads, then woven. Iteration 12 is knotted paper yarn.

In 1983 Wendy apprenticed for a year with her mother, an accomplished weaver. When she sat down at the loom, she knew she could

“do this forever and never be finished. 30 years later, this is still true.“

Wendy Kowynia has lived and worked in Steamboat Springs since 1991. Her career in textiles began in 1983. Wendy completed her BS degree from Smith College in 1982, where she majored in studio art, with a focus in painting. I am looking forward to featuring more of her work next year.

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Modest in Scale award recipient Gary Voss

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Sculptor Gary Voss is one of four recipients of the Modest in Scale exhibition awards. His current work utilizes a combination of ancient encaustic materials and contemporary rapid prototyped ABSi plastic. These vessel-like forms continue a sculpture/pottery hybrid investigation begun years ago.

On exhibit in Modest in Scale are two works, Untitled #78.E.2 and Untitled #88.As.1, created with ABSi plastic and encaustic. I am pleasantly surprised by how appealing the relationship of these two disparate materials is in Voss’s hands. Their translucent bases partially obscure mysterious forms; a bird’s eye view down through layers of vulvar forms continues, rather than dispels the intrigue.

G.Voss2_#88

Gary’s work has an emphasis on the internal with obvious reference to the human form. About this series he states:

My recent involvement with ABS plastic continues, to some degree, the sculpture/pottery hybrid investigation.  This new technology allows for an acceleration of the process from creation to realization by using industrial materials and contemporary processes of computer modeling and rapid prototyping and calls into question the cultural significance of these new materials and techniques.

The translucency of the material allows the viewer a diffused glimpse of the interior encaustic which is in opposition to the distinct forms when viewed from above. The clean, industrial, austere vessel exteriors, with their technological appearance, are contrasted by the corporeal nature of the interiors.  As this plastic has been used in the medical field, the interiors now more clearly reflect notions of body muscles and joints, with surgical implications.

Gary directs the undergraduate and undergraduate programs in sculpture at Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, Colorado.

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Modest in Scale award recipient Erin Paulson

Erin Paulson whatisotherwise2

Erin Paulson is one of four Modest In Scale award recipients.

Erin is a bookbinder, paper maker, and photographer living in Philadelphia where she is pursuing an MFA in book arts and printmaking from the University of the Arts. On exhibit in Modest in Scale are two sculptural bookwork pieces made with handmade paper and other fibers.

Paulson what is detail 2

What is other wise lost is made with handmade flax paper silk thread linen pig suede and found objects. It is housed in a miniature chest of drawers; each of the five drawers containing an elegantly arranged set of objects. In this work Erin’s attention to hand skills and reverence for simple materials is evident.

Paulson what is detail

About this piece Erin says:

With what is otherwise lost, I sought to create the tangible out of the intangible by blending elements of science and sentiment to create objects with which the viewer can interact. These transfer the elusive concepts of truth, memory, and a record of feelings past or present into a physical presence, defined and contained. The imagery references science, astronomy, astrology, and the mapping of places that don’t exist beyond the mind’s eye, while the writings describe a time and place. There is an element of magic present: the quality of the unexplained, of the potential, of the celestial, that all relate to an interest in our often inaccurate perceptions of memory.

The second piece on display is called I was screaming and no one could hear. It is made with handmade kozo paper, LED lights and book cloth.

Erin Paulson - i was screaming1

In this piece, a box houses a folded book structure, the pages heavy with embroidered lines, resting in a box, the base of which has small holes, like pinpricks, that form the book’s title. Beneath the base are LED lights that, when turned on, illuminate the word forming dots.

Paulson i was screaming

About this piece Erin says:

As a teenager I developed a series of neurotic behaviors, including a debilitating stutter. Since that time my work has been the outlet by which I enforce my determination to never again become unfettered, lose my confidence, or slip into the neuroses of my past. It is the struggle for composure over chaos, and the minute, almost indiscernible divide of which I must remain constantly aware to maintain my balance.

I was screaming and no one could hear is an artist book comprised of handmade kozo paper and a hand-embroidered sound wave of my voice striving to overcome stuttering while reciting the title. The repetitive action of the embroidery relates to the daily struggle of a former stutterer to speak with clarity.
Erin Paulson - i was screaming2

This piece is the visualization of the daily battle to conquer my speech impediment – the successes and the failures, the internal struggle and the external symptoms, the journey traversed and the finish line perceived.

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Modest in Scale award recipient Aram Han

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Aram is a Korean born multi media artist whose family immigrated to Modesto California when Aram was five years old.

Her undergraduate work focused on art and Latin American studies. She worked primarily in figurative ceramics, studying under Richard Shaw at the University of California Berkeley. She then received her post baccalaureate certificate in fine arts at Maryland Institute of Art. Aram is currently working towards an MFA in fiber and material studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

The piece in the Modest in Scale exhibition is called Ornament and Order and is made using a shirt collar with white rice and thread. Ornament and Order is one of several works inspired by the traditional South, Southeast, and East Asian mythology of the Rice Goddess or Rice Mother. In many versions the mother is killed and the first rice grows from her body. Rice now feeds over half the total world population today; the feeding of countless bodies traced back to first rice.

Aram grew up in an immigrant family and watched her mother sacrifice her dreams and much of her happiness to provide for and feed her family. Aran mimics her mother’s work as a seamstress and stitches grains of rice onto garments. She is inspired by Joseph Campbell’s suggestion to look to mythology to create metaphors to understand our daily lives. In this series the artist is connecting the life of the immigrant mother with the mythological rice mother.

I look forward to learning more about Aram and her work over the course of the coming year as we plan an exhibit to featureing her work os one of the four Modest In Scale award recipients.

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Lauren Scanlon – Fairy Tales and Romance Novels

Lauren Scanlon – Fairy Tales and Romance Novels

Scanlon3SnowWhiteHarlequinGroup1Sized

I have appreciated Lauren Scanlon’s work since I first saw a presentation given by her at a conference several years ago. When I began the curatorial process for the Drawn and Quarto exhibit at Abecedarian Gallery I contacted Lauren to see if any of her current projects might fit the theme.

After some consideration Lauren agreed to create a body of work specifically for this exhibit. Lauren pulled it off even though she married, honeymooned, moved across country, then temporarily relocated to Canada, all during the brief time she had available to create this work. In addition to all of these complications, her camera and many studio supplies were stolen while she was on the road. Her perseverance paid off with a wonderful body of work that includes drawings on pages taken from books alongside a series of ‘shrouded’ books.

Lauren Scanlon Group of Books for Drawn and Quarto 2

Here is what Lauren has to say about these works:

My recent work uses bedsheet designs as an entry point for investigating the pattern, structure and impact of a specific line of romance novels that I read when I was very young (10 years old). These novels were published as a more highly sexualized line of romance reading (than was currently available at the time).

In structure, the novels are thinly veiled recreations of classic fairytales such as Cinderella, Snow White or Bluebeard. Familiar situations and characters are present including cruel stepmothers, frightening husbands, and disenfranchised heroines in need of rescue. Having read them so young, my perception of them as fairytales is even more pronounced.

In many ways, these romance-novel-fairy-tales are much closer to the stories told by the Grimms Brothers than those told to us by Disney. Both the Grimms Tales and these romance stories contain truly frightening imagery – sexuality, violence and cruelty – that has largely been removed from recent fairytale incarnations as presented to us by contemporary narrators (in films like Cinderella Man or animated works by Disney).

The drawings presented here highlight the fairytale elements of the books while at the same time leaving the text available for you to read. Where possible, the images reflect some aspect of the narrative.

The objects are shrouded books. They are the exact romance novels that I read as a kid. They have been carved (eviscerated) with an exacto knife and shrouded for burial using domestic fabrics and gold thread. The use of bedsheets, pillowcases and curtains connects the text to the domestic realm and the specific location of a bedtime story. The decorative, often floral, patterns distract from the dark revelations of the text. This renders them relatively harmless and is an attempt to – figuratively speaking – put them to bed.

More details about these pieces as well as works by other artists included in the exhibit, available here:

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Ann Frellsen – bookish jewelry

Ann Frellsen

miniature wearable books

An open view of one of Ann’s pins

Abecedarian now offers book jewelry by PlayHouse Press to the online store. We have pins and earrings that are fully functioning miniature books handcrafted by Ann Frellsen.


Ann Frellsen is a book conservator at Emory University Libraries with a studio arts degree in sculpture. From her home in Atlanta, Georgia, Ann combines these talents and interests in the creation of book arts jewelry.

Each piece is a fully functioning miniature book, hand stitched and cased in to the cover. Ann uses high quality findings, papers, and cloth. She uses both vintage and contemporary marbled and paste papers. These charming accessories, created under her PlayHouse Press imprint, are visually fun and well-crafted.

Although there are others creating similarly wonderful book arts jewelry, Abecedarian carries Ann’s work because of the consistently high quality of both materials and production and the affordable price range. Abecedarian Gallery is the only online market carrying these pieces.

Check out what we have in stock here

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Pati Scobey – subscription print series

Pati Scobey Inside the Song

In 2004 Pati Scobey began an on-going project titled “A Chronicle of Images”. Using a letterpress, she has been making a series of prints which combine linoleum cuts, collagraphs and sometimes typographical elements. Rich and varied in color and design, the prints involve multiple runs through the press. Produced in a rural section of Michigan, where Pati has lived for many years, they are inspired by her ongoing observations, connections and readings, stemming from an active commitment to ideas and impressions that are energizing yet quietly felt.

In Pati’s words:

I can feel the first part of my life rub against the last part. Both, however, meld in my work as a visual artist. Being raised in an Air Force family, my early environment continually shifted and allowed me glimpses of other cultures and landscapes. In contrast, for the past 17 years I have been tied to one piece of land in Michigan and have developed a deep connection to place. 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. My printing process is comprised of combining plates depicting narratives and patterns in nature with stencils which are a vocabulary of shapes and characters. Through the manipulation of these elements, I produce layers and levels of form and color on the page or in the book which evoke a sense of movement, geography, and journeys. I view the work as an attempt to answer questions I ask myself.

The prints are distributed to Pati’s subscribers (those who sign up in advance to receive the years’ prints when they are published for a reduced price).

The idea of subscription prints is not unique to Pati, but most of the subscriptions series I’m aware of involve letterpress printing. Shereen LaPlantz conducted an ambitious series of subscription how to books in the late 1990’s. Long out of print, some of those titles are still available here.

Pati’s subscription prints are printed in edition sizes ranging from 125 − 150 depending on the number of subscribers and are published twice annually. Abecedarian is pleased to offer single prints from the series for those who have missed a print from the series, or want specific prints without subscribing. Click here to see current inventory.