Submitted by Whatcom Museum
“Unhinged: Book Art on the Cutting Edge” surveys recent directions in book art through the diverse work of 60 prominent artists in the field from across the US, and including Australia, Canada, and Great Britain. Opening in the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher Building on September 27, 2015 and showing through January 3, 2016, the exhibition explores the limitless potential of the book as an independent, creative medium through both intimately scaled pieces and large installations.
“Unhinged” highlights a myriad of styles and processes. Many artists carve old volumes or twist their pages into unique, sculptural configurations. Others make their own books and experiment with a multitude of different formats: accordion, concertina, pop-up, tunnel, among others. Some artists reconfigure ancient book forms, such as the scroll or codex, to create unique artworks. Books are often combined with other materials, both manufactured and natural, such as plastic, crystals, and twigs, to astonishing effects.
The exhibition also presents artists’ personal experiences, including messages about identity, human justice issues, and environmental concerns. From political statements to metaphysical ideas, book artists interpret their medium through expressive and sometimes humorous constructions.
Curator of art Barbara Matilsky notes, “As many people are not familiar with books used in art, “Unhinged” will open viewers’ eyes to the beauty, complexity, and cultural significance of the book. With digital media quickly surpassing books as a means of communication, the idea that artists can infuse new life into this traditional object underscores the continued importance of the tome in daily life. Once again, books have become vitally relevant as artists expand the physical boundaries of text and volume to express a wide range of ideas.”
The exhibition features artists who revolutionized the field, including Doug Beube, Julie Chen, Timothy Ely, Ann Hamilton, Buzz Spector, and Richard Minsky, as well as younger artists who have become internationally renowned, such as Long-Bin Chen, Brian Dettmer, Andrea Deszö, and Guy Laramée. “Unhinged” also includes many artists from Washington State: Casey Curran, Donald Glaister, Morse Clary, Marie Eckstein Gower, Deborah Greenwood, James Koss, Jessica Spring, Elsi Vasdall Ellis, Thomas Wood, Suze Woolf, and Ellen Ziegler.
The exhibition will feature a hands-on display created by Hedi Kyle, one of the pioneers of book art, showcasing a variety of styles and formats. Visitors will be able to handle these volumes, which will convey the intimacy and kinetic component of many works exhibited in the show.
Matilsky believes that, “after visiting this exhibition, viewers will never look at a book in the same way again.”
The Whatcom Museum will host a variety of programs and events in conjunction with the exhibition throughout the fall. The museum is also partnering with regional artists and organizations, offering concurrent exhibits and workshops. Visit www.whatcommuseum.org for a list of programs that highlight this exhibition.
Photo courtesy of Whatcom Museum.