paper, thread, gouache, book cloth
“Two Lives” is a hand-printed movable pop-up artist book adapted from Daniel Wallace’s imaginative and heartfelt tale, “The Kings and Queens of Roam.” The binding is Timothy Ely’s Drum Leaf structure and is enclosed in a four-flap portfolio case. The text is reprinted with kind permission from the author. The type is Bulmer, composed in InDesign and printed from photopolymer plates. The illustrations were created from hand-drawn scratch film negatives. “Two Lives” features hand-cut movable parts and gouache pochoir accents. It is essential to me that the viewer takes an active role in the reading of “Two Lives” by pulling and pushing tabs, lifting flaps, and physically manipulating the characters, just as they manipulate one another in the story. All of the moving parts, the shadow play, and the shape shifting serve as visual metaphors for human social interactions.
“Two Lives” was inspired by Daniel Wallace’s novel, “The Kings and Queens of Roam.” Wallace’s book is an expressive adventure about two sisters surrounded by ghosts, mystery, and yearning. The insensitive manner in which some of the characters treat one another is unfathomable. My work builds upon the essence of Wallace’s novel yet inserts some of my own perceptions about finding your place in the world and empathy. There is a pivotal moment in the story when one character breaks free. The escalation to that moment is depicted on the page through dramatic number placement and a textural shift in value building to blackness. The numbers represent finding a way in the darkness, but also the accumulation of mistreatment. How much can one person really withstand? To subtly introduce this concept earlier in the storyline, numbers are inconspicuously placed throughout the book to peak interest and invite multiple readings.
Kimberly Maher earned an MFA in Book Arts from the University of Iowa Center for the Book. She received a BA in Book Arts from St. Ambrose University. She currently is the Graphic Design Lab Specialist for the UI School of Art & Art History and is working toward opening a community book arts collective in Iowa City.