Teachers Connect
Jul 1, 2015

Thinking Ahead – ABC Institute One

Visit the Art, Books, & Creativity website (artbookscreativity.org), click on “resources” at the top right of the page and then scroll down to Artists’ Books. Click on several of the woman book artists listed there to see examples of their work.

What are four characteristics you notice about the construction, form or materials of the artists’ books?

Pick one form you see and think of a style of writing (narrative, poetry, biography, etc.) that might be suitable for the form of the book. Give one reason why.

29 Responses to Thinking Ahead – ABC Institute One

  1. Katie Cushman says:

    I notice precise folds, beautiful paper, strong rich color, inviting design that makes you want to discover more!

    I think a poem would be beautiful to represent with one word on each fold of an accordian-type design accompanied by color/shape/graphic-then when the book is unfolded the whole poem can be read!!

    • Kathleen Anderson says:

      Thanks for the observations! We look forward to meeting you soon at the institute. It will be a great week!

  2. Characteristics of Artist Book Construction, Form, & Material:

    1. space (actually creating a setting and visual space in terms of composition)
    2. texture / line quality
    3. pattern / repetition
    4. metaphor / use of text

    I was intrigued by Leda Black’s artist books, in particular, her accordion fold titled, “Mimesis”. Black’s imagery of man-made and natural objects both mirror and juxtapose one another within the context of a single page. I imagine with the addition of text, we would allude to what may appear as captions in a science book, or the scientific or Latin names of objects, as one would see beneath an Audubon painting.

    In addition, Black’s artist book, “twenty-six leaves of one tree: QUERCUS RUBRA”, provides the viewer that same sense of discovery, with minimal textual information. This book in particular, which shows contours of leaves from a single tree, I believe that recording the time, date, weather and location, may add to the personal experience. We see there are 126 leaves total and we understand where they come from. It leads much to the viewer’s imagination: Where is this tree? Were all of these leaves collected at once? Was was the duration of finding the leaves? Did the forces of time and nature impact the collection and create obstacles? What season was it? What is the significance of 126?

    My questions lead me to wondering if this artist book would benefit from a diary or journal factor. If each day, one were to collect a leaf, create art from it and document it in some way, the piece would become deeper and more personally meaningful having spent time reflecting upon the leaf itself, and the individual’s mood and state of mind and the time of discovering the leaf. The leaves could still come from the same tree, but the artist could provide a personal record for each time a leaf is collected and documented.

    • Kathleen Anderson says:

      Thank you for your response to the questions. It is a wonderful beginning to our journey next week!

  3. Rachel Blumenthal says:

    Four characteristics I notice about the authors’ books are that they are 3 dimensional, there are precise lines and folds, they are poetic in wording, and they jump out at you with color.

    One style of writing that could go along with the 3 dimensional aspect of the book would be autobiography, because our lives start off being flat, and then as we grow we add more to ourselves adding new dimensions to who we are as individuals.

    • Kathleen Anderson says:

      I appreciate your thoughts and you, as well as the other participants who are commenting, will have a wonderful start to your final project. See you next week!

  4. zell rosenfelt says:

    I think that the nested format of Leda Black’s amazing artbook depicting one night in Utica, New York, as well as Alice Austin’s accordian-style book both lend themselves to biography because they allow an author to present herself in layers. From the starting point (wherever that may be) one goes out in an ever-widening circle. Isn’t that what most of us experience in our lives? This allows us a three-dimensional way to present it.

    • Kathleen Anderson says:

      I am enjoying reading all these responses and appreciate you looking at the collection and thinking about how those books can influence your work next week. Thank you!

  5. Kathleen Anderson says:

    Thank you for responding. Our discussions next week will be lively!

  6. Ellen Rosenthal says:

    Four characteristics I noted were:

    1. How sculptural they all were, and how much I wanted to hold some of them in my hands to read them like a book, but at the same time to admire them on a shelf as pieces of sculpture.

    2. The variety of colors, materials, media, and textures.

    3. The quality of the construction and the finish of the artwork inside them. The combinations of the words and images also showed quite a bit of variety.

    4. How unique they all were; it seemed the personality of the artist comes through in both the construction and the artwork and words.

    Interesting also to see the other artworks the artists also create besides books.

    I think you could use artist books for many different texts. It really is the ideal way for anyone so inclined to express themselves on many different levels.

    I also am thinking of a “memory” type book of a past experience; words as free text or poems to tell about an past experience combined with images–drawings, photos, other 2-D artworks. I’m thinking my students would respond well to that.

  7. Kathleen Anderson says:

    You have a good start on ideas – thank you for responding. We look forward to seeing you next week!

  8. Stephanie Greene says:

    I enjoyed looking at all of the work created by the featured artists.

    Focusing specifically on Emily Martin’s art books, a few of the characteristics I noticed include:

    Art books can be Therapeutic – many of the artist’s art books were autobiographical. For instance the artist is working through her mother’s dementia and her own anxieties/experiences in life.
    Art books are Thoughtfully Planned – the artist is able to apply the perfect technique to explore the vision of each art book. For instance, the art book Out There In Here using the double tunnel technique captures the feelings of almost being trapped dealing with a family member’s disease.
    Art books use Composition – the artist deliberately places narrative (or no narrative at all) within or around the art books to capture the emotions she is trying to convey.
    Art books use Variety – it seems that each art book has a completely different vision, the artist uses different techniques to explore the vision, and the artist explores many different materials to bring the vision to life.

    I love the idea of using a carousel book to create an autobiography/memoir to represent the circle of life. I also love the idea of using the tunnel technique for introspection.

    • Kathleen Anderson says:

      It is wonderful to concentrate on one artist – reminds me of reading all of a writer’s books and feeling that you know the person! Thank you and see you next week.

  9. Madeleine Brooks-Kenney says:

    The usual understanding of a book as closed with two covers hiding thin pages which are sequentially turned to be read is upended. The artists’ books are often meant to be displayed open in a 3D form. There is a tendency to use colored, patterned, textured, specialty papers. Text is often, effectively, sparse. The shape, form of the book may be part of its content, theme.
    The accordion book may be most adaptive, being suited for narrative, poetry, informational text. It could also be used for contrasting points of view on a topic using the left and right sides of a valley fold.

    • Kathleen Anderson says:

      Thank you for looking at the books and commenting on them. You will enjoy the institute next week and have a chance to put some of your ideas into action!

  10. Kay B. says:

    I noticed a variety of forms that allowed for self-expression, simplistic designs with beautiful colors and materials, 3-Dimensional designs that allow for interaction, and lots of patterns!

    The intricately folded 3-Dimensional ones remind me of poetry, because the forms allows for simple words and expressions.

    • Kathleen Anderson says:

      I’m excited about the class this week (tomorrow!) because each participants have pointed out a variety of options for book making. I look forward to seeing you there!

  11. Mary Jo Jividen says:

    In Jo Going’s work “Wild Cranes”, I noticed the inviting, vivid, bold colors. I see individual, stand-alone narratives woven together to create a text with no beginning and no ending working together to create a completed work (theme). And listening to her interview, I realized how she had to change and adapt her work to include feathers not of wild cranes, but grouse. The writing style this makes me think of is short stories because each story can stand alone or the writer can weave stories together to create a bigger work.

    • Kathleen Anderson says:

      Thank you for your comments. No one has mentioned short stories and weaving shorter stories into a larger creative theme is very interesting. See you tomorrow!

  12. Rachel Hull says:

    At first glance I’m so intrigued by the interaction required by the viewer (handler) and the art. With many of the books the composition of the art changes by the flipping of a page. The books invite interaction on a completely different level and bring new meaning to the phrase–I’m really into this book!

    Obviously text is a traditional and primary component of a book. Each artist and project approaches text in such various ways. The words create lines and new shapes and forms.

    I love the playful nature of many of the books. Play is a critical component for creation and it is evident in each artist’s work.

    I was instantly struck by the contrasting intimacy and distance created by Emily Martin’s tunnel book. After reading the caption describing her mother’s dementia I found it even more profound. Pairing the text and construction is obviously a major component of the artform.

    Merging the idea of a map book with a biography is very interesting to me.

  13. Kathleen Anderson says:

    Thank you for pointing out the interaction between the artist and the “handler” of the book. I look forward to meeting you and all the participants – I believe it’s going to be a very worthwhile week for all of us!

  14. Daniela Shumate says:

    As mentioned before,Inote the use of the elements of art and principles of design. I liked both Emily Martin’s floating library and Alice Austin’s tunnel books. Both artists use maps a to convey a theme of wandering, being lost and then found.
    These art books invite us to see, and to find words. Traditional books give us the words, and we the readers find the art. I am currently reading Snow Child, and I am beginning see a beautiful tunnel book of the rugged Alaskan frontier!

    • Kathleen Anderson says:

      Thank you for your comments and the correction! It is wonderful when seeing the work of others, we are motivated into our own creativity…..see you tomorrow!

  15. Daniela Shumate says:

    I too note the use of all of the principles of art and design. I especially liked Emily Martin’s floating maps and Alice Martin’s map books. Both convey the themes of wandering, be sign lost and found. a metaphor for the literary voyage.
    All of theses artists invite us to see and then find words…a different journey than the traditional reading….I’m currently reading Snow Child and I can’t help but envisioning a tunnel book depicting the Alaskan wilderness!

  16. Daniela Shumate says:

    Oops..noticed a typo….should read being lost and found…

  17. hadley says:

    Alice Austin’s Mosaic drew me in with her use of color and the shapes within the patterns used to create the design. Lines used within the pattern and the folds help the eye travel throughout the book. She is has created a art book that pulls you into a piece of art

    The power of a picture book – Images can tell a story without text – the absent of text from what I could see – allows for the story to unfold as the viewer wishes to see it. As children get older their books turn to text and the images are eliminated, all but the cover of the story. Opening up for some to visually create the story as they see the text – however some students struggle to come up with the visions – on the other hand we have the students who struggle with the text and its the imagination of the images that allow for them to tell the story with images when the language is not there to complete the task. The power of books both with and without text tell stories to the viewer.

  18. Kathleen Anderson says:

    We found that students who do not have full grasp of language do very well with these projects. It’s not that they don’t have ideas or want to communicate, but they need to communicate in a variety of ways….see you tomorrow.

  19. Jonathan Bustamante says:

    I like the way each artist can express themselves beyond colors, words, feelings, images and ideas. This book making experience can be a new form of expression that defies usual categories.
    A biography picture book sounds like a new way to present the story of someone.

  20. The four characteristics that stood out to me most in these examples were:
    1. The specificity of the materials used in regards to subject matter.
    2. The wide variety of processes used in their creation (lithography, pre-printed materials, stamping, letterpress, drawing, etc.)
    3. The precise craftsmanship that was used in constructing the elements of each book
    3. The careful attention that was put into choosing the right format to best express the ideas and feeling each book was meant to convey

    The writing style that I chose to pair with Alice Austin’s ‘Maps of Venice’ and ‘The Rome Project’ is what you might see in an artist’s journal or an advertisement that utilizes kinetic typography. I picture words, anecdotes, ideas, and stories with personal meaning written and transferred directly onto the piece in ways that relate directly to experiences that are associated with that location.

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