Thursday, March 13, 2014


The last couple of months I've been working on two artist's books that deal with reusing, redeeming or reviving something.  So, in memory of my mom, Cathy, who loved to play bingo, I'm reusing and reviving some old bingo cards that didn't win the jackpots.  I am fortunate enough to be in two wonderful shows that start today.  Both are attributable to the Kate Cheney Chappell '83 Center for Book Arts through the University of Southern Maine.

The first book, "Bingo", incorporated over 100 pages of bingo cards that have been folded and inserted into one another.  No glue was used to hold the pages together in this book.  There was glue used to hold the spine on, that's all.  I did play around with other titles like, 'loser' but thought being positive was better.

"Bingo!" Blizzard Book with over 100 pages using bingo sheets, 11"x5"x7" 
The second book, "B 42", is a book designed specifically to hang on a wall.  There are 25 book spheres that are attached by magnets to the wall.  Again, no glue was used.  I am assuming that everyone knows how bingo is played, thus the reason B42 is pink.
"B 42", Magnetic book pages that hang on a wall using bingo sheets, magnets, and metal clasps, 15"x15"

Rescued, Revived, Redeemed
Artists' Books made by The Center for Book Arts Critique Group at the Pope-Cheney Art Studio located on the 1st floor of the Wishcamper Center, 34 Bedford St., USM, Portland Campus  (Hours: 8 a.m.-10 p.m., Monday-Thursday, and 8 a.m.-6 p.m., Friday)  This show goes up March 13 and runs through May of 2014.

Bound Together
This exhibit will be composed of approximately 30- 50 artist’s books
created by USM students from Art 341, The Visual Book 2 and books made
by community members from the USM Kate Cheney Chappell’83 Center for
Book Arts Critique Group.  The exhibit will be shown in the Lewis Gallery in the Portland Public Library in April.  Opening reception is April 4, 2014 from 5-8pm.

Thanks for looking!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Living The Questions: Thesis Thrashing

My first task this semester was over 40 hours gathering the multitudes of sketchbooks, worksheets, recommended reading lists, semester proposals, mentor updates and responses, semester evaluations, research, glass firing schedules, supply lists, etc.

I found this process of bringing it all together very satisfying.  Going through and putting my semester folders in chronological order helped me to see in a different light how far I had come from the Alphabet Project from that first semester.  It reminded me how new and unknown everything was back then; my podmates, mentors, instructors, the commitment, the school, and the wonder of how this whole MFA process was going to shake out.  As I piled each folder on top of one another and recalled what transpired that semester, I was reminded how far we've all come, the wonderful lifelong friendships made, the trials and tribulations dealt with, and the ups and downs of life happening to each of us outside of school.  Being witness to all of that has just reaffirmed that this was the right path for me.

Once everything was piled high in the middle of my work table the questions began surfacing.  What the heck am I going to do for a final project?  Where do I start?  What's the focus?  What is my intention?  How "big" should it be?  What is the actual thing itself going to be?  After a lot of deliberation and thought, I came up with an idea that will continue with the mandala theme and that of the heroine's journey.  My love for making books had been part of the early semesters when we had an outside major projects that we could choose.  Once those outside majors had be chosen for us, I missed making books as part of the mandala/journey process.  So, I think it's time for me to bring the book back and have it as a final presentation.

With the idea of making a book comes the question, what kind of book is it going to be?  What is a book anyway?  Webster's says a book is "a written or printed work consisting of pages glued or sewn together along one side and bound in covers".  But it doesn't have to be.  I'm thinking a glass book and a book that is possibly one that viewers can touch and interact with.

The book will be about life's journey.  It will be drawn from my own heroine's journey through Shaker Spirit Drawings, Jungian Mandalas and the seven human chakras that will become part of the design elements.  Right now I'm deliberating on the best form of the book that will make it more interactive.  I don't know where this "interaction" element is coming from but need to see it through to fruition if it's possible.  The book will be made of 7 co-centric circles that will be movable from a central element.  The designs on each of the 7 circular mandalas will be simple and transparent so when you spin each circle the next layer of mandala is visible in a different way.  Not sure how all this will play out structurally and technically but am going to give it a try.

As you know, the layering process is important to me but I intend to keep it very simple (and less chaotic than the last two semester's pieces).  Whether the entire piece needs to be lit from below or not will be determined by the glass itself.  Many test pieces will need to be made in order to know whether that is a possibility or necessity!

I've been building some book prototypes out of foam core board and paper to get a basic idea of the structure and what that will visually look like.  I'm making some smaller scaled versions of the mandalas layers to get an idea what that will entail as well.  The design elements on each of the 7 layers will be made with frit and colored glass.  At this point I'm not intending to have any 'painting' included.  I see the final piece as something that viewers will come to with quiet reception and inquisitive thinking as they are invited to touch the work.  Am I crazy to think that it is safe to do so?  I might be.

Using words have been an question for me and I'm not sure that I will as that changes the experience.  I think I will use my 'calligrahic script' style to suggest writing in various places.

So, that's where I am at the moment.  Actively aware daily that this project is finding it's own voice.  I have been reading several books on Carl Jung and some on mandalas themselves.  The quest for more knowledge about the subject matters is always there.  I'm finding a book written by William D. Geoghegan, "Jung's Psychology: As a Spritual Practice & Way of Life" is relavent for where I am in this process of thesis thrashing.

I think this is a significant piece to do as it relates to everyone's journey through life whether a hero or a heroine and it seems a good culmination of all my work thus far.  I would hope people would come away with a sense of spirituality or centered-ness from experiencing my book.

So, I continue to live the questions not just ask them.  And the answers?  Those come with living the questions and doing the work.