Archive | 2012 Exhibitions

Alisa Banks – The Edge Series

A.Banks_EdgTW1Alisa Banks has two pieces from her Edges series included in the Modest in Scale exhibition at Abecedarian Gallery. This is the first I’ve seen of her work, and I am pleased to have the opportunity to both examine her work and learn more about the conceptual development of these particular pieces.

Alisa is a visual artist whose work explores aspects of identity including notions of home, the body and Southern Louisiana culture. She often incorporates fibers and found materials that in form reference traditional crafts. She currently lives in Dallas, TX.

Her repurposed books have immediate visual appeal as standalone sculptural objects; their craft and technique are satisfying. Happily, they go beyond craft and novelty of approach as Alisa is also addressing content and concept in an intelligent and sophisticated manner.A.Banks_EdgLB1

Alisa says:

Edges is a series of 4, each with a different edge treatment based on African/African ancestry braided hair styles and are titled based on the style and the method of braiding: corn-rowing, twisting, lace braiding, and thread wrapping. Instead of manipulating the hair solely by hand, I crocheted the hair to the base, or page edge of each book (except for Twist, which is closer to latch-hooking). Lace braid is actually lace crocheted using hair. I say that, because it does not look exactly as a lace-braided hairstyle.A.Banks_EdgLB2
The Edges series of books is one of several that utilize hair (usually synthetic,but sometimes human) in some fashion. Hair culture is a recurring theme in my work in part because it (hair) is highly personal and highly subject to social codes even within cultural groups. In the various pieces, hair is used to convey messages by the manner in which it is treated, by the styling of the hair, and titling of the work. As a side note, I find it interesting that styles considered current are often similar to much older, even ancient styles, whose meanings are long forgotten.

The books were chosen primarily because of their intimate size and because they are written in Spanish, however the actual stories do not relate to the overall piece.

During the time I created the series, there was much heated political dialog on the national, state and local level concerning (illegal) immigration. Often the dialog took an underlying tone of intolerance and had little to do with immigration status. The tones of intolerance (which were cross-cultural), reminded me of growing up in the 60’s and 70’s during integration. My intent was to use the hair treatment in a way that would show how much activity, creativity and life happens on the “edges” of mainstream society, regardless of whether or not it is recognized. By the way, the term “edges” in African American hair culture refers to the parts of the hair that are most challenging to deal with – in other words, the parts of the hair that do not “act” or “look” like the rest.

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Lauren Scanlon – Fairy Tales and Romance Novels

Lauren Scanlon – Fairy Tales and Romance Novels


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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Artists Book Cornucopia III – Casey Gardner

Body of Inquiry by Casey Gardner

Casey Gardner - Body of Inquiry

This is a work that succeeds on every level: the text, both humorous and pithy, is engaging, the craft and material selection superb, the design and layout a balance of image, information and space.

The presentation is such that one is informed, enticed and amused before even getting to the ‘insides’ of the work – a corporeal codex, the inside story.

We read that the work was inspired by Torso Woman, a genuine anatomical model of serene evisceration. Mounted on the interior central panel, appropriately placed on a brush worked depiction of an armless, legless female, who does, however, have a head), wearing a stoic (or is it serene?) expression is an organically shaped book that includes overlapping shapes reminiscent of the human anatomy books of the fifties.

On the exterior of the central panel is a diagram depicting “How to approach something”, as well as Gardner’s dedication to many inspiring teachers, one in particular who made ‘learning an immense fantastical tale.’

This book is produced in an edition of 57 and sells for $1200.

Artist bio, images, descriptive details and ordering information here

Casey Gardner is the recipient of this years’ Gallery Director Award.

Her work will be featured in a Reading Room exhibit during Artists Book Cornucopia IV in 2013.

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Artists Book Cornucopia III – Cathryn Miller

The Universe by Cathryn Miller

Cathryn Miller - Universe
The Universe, made as a conscious act of re-purposing a found book, has quite a different look and feel than most other altered books I see. Miller’s purpose is very specific: 


In making these works I take existing popular science books and re-configure them into objects that reveal the content of the text and images in a new way. The subject matter of the book determines the final reconstructed form. 


The three ‘volumes’ of this work each contain dozens of Froebel stars (a Froebel star is a three-dimensional star made of four strips of paper) – the stars fitting exactly into the box cavity when closed and spilling forth when the box lid is opened for viewing.


This set is produced in an edition of one and sells for $1200.


Artist bio, images, descriptive details and ordering information here.

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Artists Book Cornucopia III – Dennis Yuen

Hokusai No Yurei by Dennis Yuen

Dennis Yuen - Hokusai No Yurei (Hokusai's Ghost)

Unwrapping Dennis Yuen’s book is a rare treat. This physically lightweight object morphs into something of unexpectedness weightiness with the unwrapping of each layer of the cotton cord that makes up its bulk.

Using lengths of cotton cord suggestive of Yurei’s (a Japanese folklore character) long hair, the book successfully evokes a sense of the ethereal outside of the specific context of Japanese folklore.

This book is produced in an edition of one and sells for $2000 .

Artist bio, images, descriptive details and ordering information here.

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Artists Book Cornucopia III – Karen Kunc

Ephemera by Karen Kunc

Karen Kunc - Ephemera


I have been an admirer of Karen Kunc’s prints and books for many years so I am delighted to have two of her works included in this years’ Artists Book Cornucopia exhibition.


Impeccably designed, printed and bound, Ephemera is an accordion structure with multiple layers of woodcut imagery combined with letterpress image and text. This elegant presentation evolved from an invitation from Longwood University to poet Robert Pinsky and Karen Kunc.


The book includes the two poems Rhyme and The Want Bone


An excerpt from Rhyme


Air an instrument of the tongue

The tongue an instrument

Of the body . . . 


And from The Want Bone:


The tongue of the waves tolled in the earth’s bell.

Blue ripped and soaked in the fire of blue . . . 


This book is produced in an edition of 50 and sells for $950.


Artist bio, images, descriptive details and ordering information here.  

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Artists Book Cornucopia III – Kyle Holland

Neglected by Kyle Holland

Kyle Holland - Neglected

Neglected, a two volume piece with a wrap around cover is an elegant commentary on a disappointing father/son relationship.


Silhouette images of leafless trees, printed letterpress, grace both the interior panels of the wrapper and the covers of one volume. The second volume has a letterpress bird silhouette on the cover. Variations on the two shapes, bird and trees, appear throughout both volumes; the text is poignant and sparse. 


One volume is printed in bright, warm colors pulp painted on handmade paper, the second is in cooler tones, on translucent paper, furthering the sense of remoteness the title implies. 


Although the two volumes use the same visual forms and approach to text, they complement rather than repeat.


Kyle Holland finishes his undergraduate studies at Memphis College of Art this week. His work is already accomplished and sophisticated. I look forward to his future projects. 


This set is produced in an edition of three and sells for $400. One copy is still available


Artist bio, images, descriptive details and ordering information here.  

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Artists Book Cornucopia III – Cynthia Nourse Thompson

Artists Book Cornucopia III – Cynthia Nourse Thompson


Cynthia Thompson - Grievous 2

Cynthia Thompson - Remorse 1

The physical and historical path the two girdle books, Grievous and Remorse, by Cynthia Thompson follow make them highlights of the exhibition. 

Each has pages of handmade paper made from historically significant rag fibers (Grievous from unblessed purificators and corporals and Remorse from an unblessed cappa). 


Bound in goat with nickel clasps made by Thompson, the associations and presentation are clean, pure and ordered. 


That they are so rich with content while visually so spare and elegant is a noteworthy accomplishment.


Both books are produced in editions of 5 and sell for $3200 each.


Artist bio, images, descriptive details and ordering information here  

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Artists Book Cornucopia III – Servane Briand

Traces by Servane Briand


Servane Briand - Traces 2

A favorite attribute of this book is how lovely it smells. The book’s flexible yet sturdy covers are infused with beeswax, which means the book smells good and also feels wonderful in the hand. It is a palm-sized book, easily held while being read, and intended to act, in Briand’s words

as a daily companion and a reminder of the passing of time

I say read even though the book hasn’t any text. It does have narrative qualities. The pages progress through a series of color and tone shifts and each page has a variety of marks and symbols that resemble a partially faded pictographic alphabet. Each signature has a double gate fold, adding to the narrative aspect.


Servane Briand - Traces 1

This book is a one of a kind and sells for $300.

Artist bio, images, descriptive details and ordering information here

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Artists Book Cornucopia III – Sun Young Kang

In Between Presence and Absence – Sun Young Kang


Sun Young Kang - In Between Presence and Absence, 2



This is the 2nd in a series of shaped page book objects created by Korean artist Sun Young Kang,  and is a continuation of her ongoing exploration of absence/emptiness and presence.


Using limited text


The presence only exists when the absence is recognized


and meticulous craft, Kang brings a meditative aspect to her work. Additional wonder comes when one recognizes that these works are crafted from quiet, repetitive work processes. 


Although the abstract Buddhist  philosophy of ‘emptiness’ is difficult to grasp, Kang succeeds in presenting the non-visual concept as a tangible object that has both presence and absence.


Viewing this work is quiet pleasure. 


This book is produced in an edition of 10 and sells for $600


Artist statement, images, descriptive details and ordering information here  

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