Volume 2 of 500 Handmade Books, jurored by Julie Chen and published by Lark Books, contains two images of my large, multifaceted Depth Perception: Mapmaking Legacies at Mammoth Cave (described later on this webpage). What a wealth of beautiful variations shown in this volume celebrating the book arts!

An image of this artist's book also was selected for inclusion in the National Park Service's National Park Arts website, which showcases the works of artists-in-residence at many different National Parks. As described elsewhere on my website, park residencies have been among my most fruitful, delightful, and memorable experiences, thanks to the special people who work at--and cherish--these distinctive places.

Depth Perception was one of the 28 books featured in Bind-O-Rama 2014, a 20th anniversary celebration of the Book_Arts-L Listserv, founded and nurtured by Peter Verheyen. Some of the books I created for Mammoth Cave National Park were highlighted in the June 2014 "Featured Member" website profile by Art & Science Collaborations, a professional organization that fosters and celebrates "art-sci" explorations. In addition, several of my Mammoth Cave-related books were profiled in the Italian arts journal TECA: Testimonianzi Editoria Cultura Arte, in the "Arte Libro" section. TECA (number 4, 2013) was presented at the "Arte Libro" book fair in Bologna, Italy, September 19-22. It's especially gratifying that the Mammoth Cave-related books were selected for this profile, since that remarkable place and the NPS staff there continually inspire my work. 

Also related to my art-sci interests is the original poem “On the Whole,” which appeared in the August 2015 issue of SciArt in America—the publication’s second-anniversary special issue. Through thoughtful reflections and stunning photographs, a wide range of contributors delve into the intersections between art and science. The issue is available online and in print.

My artist's books are held in various university library, museum, and other collections, as noted on this website's Resume page. I'm honored that 22 titles, the largest group, are held by Vanderbilt University's Special Collections at the Jean and Alexander Heard Library.

 

EXHIBITIONS:

On August 6, 2015, the international exhibition Dirt? Scientists, Book Artists, and Poets Reflect on Soil and Our Environment opened at the University of Puget Sound’s Collins Memorial Library. Curated by visual artist Lucia Harrison, the exhibition contains a wide array of fascinating artists’ books and poems. I had the privilege of serving as a one of the three poetry jurors for the exhibition, and, as a juror, I was invited to create an artist’s book and poem. Focusing on soil microbes used for medicines, I completed Groundwork for Healing, an artist’s book containing an original poem with that same title.This exhibition, which coincides with the United Nations International Year of Soils, will continue through December 4, 2015. Both online and print catalogues are available (see previous link). This book, containing various movable features, was recently acquired by Vanderbilt University's Special Collections at the Jean and Alexander Heard Library.

In early summer, Denver's Abecedarian Gallery hosted An Ideation Experience, curated by gallery owner and book artist Alicia Bailey. Book artists from the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand used The Artists’ Book Ideation Card Decks, created by Barbara Tetenbaum and Julie Chen, as the basis for their books, resulting in a rich variety of book styles and subjects. In my book, titled by way of, I especially enjoyed the challenge of creating text that was nonsensical but symbolic--forms dancing within and beyond the book's confines.

From December 2013 through January 2014, a book titled Symmetries was part of the "Patterns" exhibition at the University of Alabama's Gorgas Library. Here are a few images of that book, which is an exploration of letter symmetries:

This juried exhibition of the Guild of Book Workers--Southeast Chapter contained a wide range of inventive artists' books interpreting the "Patterns" theme.

 

 

WORKSHOPS: Some of the workshops I've offered most recently are described on this website's Shared Spaces Bookmaking page, and I'm continually developing new ideas. If you're interested in arranging such workshops--or in discussing customized workshops and group projects--please e-mail me at sharon@sharphandmadebooks.com.

EXHIBITION: During March 2013, Appalachian State University's Turchin Center for the Visual Arts hosted an exhibition of works by that year's workshop instructors. My artist's books for this included Depth Perception: Mapmaking Legacies at Mammoth Cave (described below), plus the two books Freehand and Mnemonics.

These books incorporate original poems and artwork while representing the types of books involved in my Turchin Center workshops. 

 

NEW MINIATURE BOOKS: During recent years, I've been creating more miniature books--ones defined as less than 3 inches in all dimensions when closed. Two of these were part of the 2012 Miniature Book Society annual competition*:

The Mammoth Legacy of Stephen Bishop, a multifaceted accordion-fold book, pays tribute to Stephen Bishop, a 19th-century African-American guide and explorer at Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave. Although enslaved for all but one year of his life, Bishop gained international renown for his knowledge and talents, and his legacy is still celebrated at today’s Mammoth Cave National Park.

The front of the accordion contains a pamphlet-stitched booklet about Bishop and his work at the cave, a stitched-in pocket holding a portion of a famous cave map Bishop drew, a fold-out with an original poem, one original drawing, and 6 inkjet prints of 19th-century Mammoth Cave etchings and engravings archivally printed over scanned images of original suminagashi. The place-names from Bishop’s famous map appear on the back of the accordion.

 

 

*(Note: Should you see an original copy of the MBS exhibition catalog, the description related to this book incorrectly identified Bishop as a "freed slave," a description that, tragically, applied only very briefly before his untimely death. The correction has been made in the online catalog, and an erratum note was added to most hard copies of the catalog.)

Among the collections that have acquired The Mammoth Legacy of Stephen Bishop are the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (New York Public Library), the University of Kentucky's Lucille Little Fine Arts Library, and Vanderbilt University's Heard Library. The first copy is part of Indiana University's Lilly Library miniatures collection.

Crazy Quilts is a tulip-fold book that celebrates both 19th-century crazy quilt traditions and the crazy quilts my maternal grandmother created. The look of fabric remnants is reflected in two ways: original linocuts of crazy-quilt blocks in the center of the book and 12 origami papers on the upper and lower book portions. Handwritten text, in angled lines, suggests the intricate embroidery stitches between a crazy quilt’s many asymmetrical shapes and conveys historical and personal details related to such quilts. Since embroidery was integral to crazy quilts, many stitch names are presented. The book’s varied movements also reflect crazy quilts’ fascinating arrays of colors and designs.

  

The first copy of Crazy Quilts is in Indiana University's Lilly Library collection of miniatures, and the other copies found homes, thanks to Vamp & Tramp Booksellers

Hidden Horizons: Ground for Growth is an exploration of one of our most important yet overlooked worldwide resources, soil. This large book with many different movable features was acquired by Vanderbilt University's Special Collections at the Jean and Alexander Heard Library.

 

As someone fascinated by earth sciences, I wanted to invite readers into the scientifically complex realm of soil horizons, or layers, which are critical to world food supplies and many other facets of life. Readers are invited to glimpse soil horizons’ complexities as they explore details on a volvelle, two dissolves and another sliding mechanism, a turning circle, a fold-down, and a multifold with cut-outs. By recognizing the underground wealth, we can, I hope, better appreciate soil and protect its richest horizons from erosion and other threats. Another view of Hidden Horizons appears on this website's BookArt+Science page.

REPRESENTATION BY VAMP & TRAMP BOOKSELLERS:

I've long admired the fine work of Bill & Vicky Stewart, who, as Vamp & Tramp Booksellers, so passionately represent artists' books, fine-press books, and broadsides. I'm delighted to have Vamp & Tramp representing a number of my artist's books, some of which are one-of-a-kind and others, part of editions. You can explore V&T's remarkable collection on the website or at one of the Stewarts' presentations around the country, as described on the Upcoming Events part of their website. Also, you can also download Bill's insightful article "Circuit Riders for Book Arts: Some Observations from a Road" in The Bonefolder and read other articles linked to the V&T website. 

Through Vamp & Tramp, various special-collections libraries have recently purchased books, including Denison University; the Savannah College of Art & Design's Savannah campus; the universities of Denver, Kentucky, and Vermont; and Vanderbilt University. For specifics about the books acquired, see the Resume and Portfolio parts of this website. I'm honored to have works in these collections, thanks to the Stewarts. 

You can "meet" Bill Stewart and glimpse one of my books--a red, black, and white flag-style book about bats, titled Great Good/Bad Fortune--on a short but fascinating video about the 44th California International Antiquarian Booksellers Fair. (For Bill and my book, you can start at the 00:38 time marker, but I hope you'll get to enjoy the whole synopsis.)

My artist's books currently available through Vamp & Tramp include 

  • Blue Ridge Bounty (miniature)
  • Eight-Word Autumn Scene (miniature)
  • Flowing Essence
  • The Incompleat Editor Polishes Passages from Louisa May Alcott's LITTLE WOMEN (miniature)
  • Season's Sight
  • Source Notes

The Stewarts or I will gladly provide you with details about all of these currently available titles, as well as about various titles that universities' special collections libraries have acquired. 

OTHER EXHIBITIONS, GRANTS, & TEACHING

From October 4-November 4, 2011, the Jones House Cultural & Community Center, Boone, NC (the town where I live) presented the solo exhibition Books as Curious Creations, which contained a wide variety of my handmade books, ranging from large sculptural ones to miniatures. One side of the gallery highlighted my book projects related to Mammoth Cave National Park, where I served as the 2009 Artist-in-Residence, and displayed the complex sculptural book Depth Perception: Mapmaking Legacies at Mammoth Cave (described on this webpage). Visitors also saw a seven-book set, created collaboratively with Washington State artist Lucia Harrison, that relates to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and includes a large Slinky-style book. Other books dealt with a wide range of subjects, from my family's quilting heritage to details from my editing experiences to the wonders of nature.

         

Depth Perception: Mapmaking Legacies at Mammoth Cave is a large artist's book created for The Celebration of the Book, an invitational book arts exhibition held May 27-August 4, 2011, at the McMaster Gallery, University of South Carolina, Columbia. An exhibition catalog is available as a download or a printed volume through Lulu.com.

As mentioned earlier, two images of this book were selected by juror Julie Chen for inclusion in 500 Handmade Books, volume 2 (Lark Books, Sept. 2013). Another image of the book was selected for inclusion in the National Park Service's National Park Arts online exhibition, which profiles artwork created by various National Parks' artists-in-residence. This book is rooted in my experiences as Mammoth Cave National Park's 2009 Artist-in-Residence, and I am celebrating the astounding cave explorations and mapmaking accomplishments of two key 19th- and early-20th-century figures, the enslaved African American guide Stephen Bishop and a visiting German civil engineer Max Kaemper (assisted by guide Ed Bishop, a great-nephew of Stephen Bishop). In the book, I use a complex folded and sewn structure with pop-up features as the base for many of my cave-interior photographs, along with text about these remarkable people and their maps. The fully opened book, which has several sections, extends to 42", and other views appear in the Portfolio part of this website.

Even when Depth Perception: Mapmaking Legacies at Mammoth Cave is closed, parts of the cave-interior photographs, cave-map names, and cut-out/pop-up forms are evident. The book can be read and viewed from many angles, which are intended to hint at Mammoth Cave's labyrinthine passageways and their multiple levels. When the covers are opened partially, more of the cave-interior photographs are visible, as are portions of the maps created by the explorer-mapmakers being celebrated. Details about these people, Stephen Bishop and Max Kaemper, can be read by folding down both ends of the book and then opening the covers of small interior books, as shown here on one end.

The Celebration of the Book, co-sponsored by the Southeast Association for Book Arts, offered a fascinating range of works by 35 book artists.

 

 

 

 

 

ARTWORK FOR AUCTION: The Morgan Art of Papermaking Conservatory & Educational Foundation holds a special fundraiser--the "Snail Mail Paper Trail" open house and fundraising auction--each fall, in Cleveland, OH. The auction is the major fundraising event for this nonprofit organization. For last year's auction I used two lovely sheets of the Morgan's handmade paper and added some touches of black paper to explore the notion of chiaroscuro. I'm currently creating some artwork for the 2014 auction and enjoying the chance to use the Morgan's beautiful handmade papers.

For the previous year's auction, I created two collages using, as the base for each, a sheet of the Morgan's fine handmade paper as their base. One collage was focused around a William Wordsworth quotation and contained three of my poems, as well as Thistle Farm paper and a note about the women who make that paper. The other collage was about hornets and wasps as papermakers, and it contained various papers, inkjet prints of 18th- and 19th-century artwork, extensive handwriting, and a piece of a hornets' nest.

 

 

 

 

EXHIBITION: From September 14-October 6, 2012, the Ashe Arts Center and the Ashe County Arts Council (West Jefferson, NC) hosted the More Than Words exhibition. Among the wide-ranging, mostly collaborative works are four of my artist's books: Edging Deep Blue, Flowing Essence, Source Notes, and The Essential Sense.

Duke University's Center for Advanced Hindsight, directed by behavioral economist Dan Ariely, hosted PoorQuality/Inequality, June 1-August 31, 2012. For this art exhibition, whose focus was "social and economic inequality, wealth distribution, and what is so taxing about taxation," I created an artist's book titled What Is the Sound of Two Invisible Hands Clapping?--a reflection on the complex ways our "needs" and "wants" interact to shape decisions about both individual and societal well-being. Here are two views:

 

With multiple parts that open in various ways, this large book invites viewers to explore many layers of text filled with questions about needs and wants, equality and inequality, and individual and collective decisions.

This book was recently acquired by Vanderbilt University's Special Collections at the Jean and Alexander Heard Library.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PRESENTATION: On October 8, 2012, members of the Hickory Museum of Art Guild warmly welcomed me for a presentation about my book-arts journey and about selected books, including the ones I created for Mammoth Cave National Park (briefly on loan to me). The HMA is an outstanding community resource, and I appreciated this special opportunity.

DISPLAY: In the late summer of 2012, fine crafts and paintings by several instructors for the Florence Thomas Memorial Art School's were on display at the Northwest North Carolina Sustainable Rest Area & Visitor Center--the state's first fully "green," LEED Gold Certified facility of this sort--on Highway 421, just outside of Wilkesboro. One shelf of the display contained a variety of my books, including the type we made in my September 10-11 workshop. If you're headed to Boone via Highway 421, please check out this impressive "green" facility.

Other Exhibition News:

For a winter 2010-2011 exhibition, curator MalPina Chan selected two of my artist's books for The Book as Art: Hand2Hand, which included artists' books designed so that readers/viewers could interact with them at Seattle's Columbia City Gallery. For a thoughtful take on the show, read this review from the South Seattle Beacon.

One of my books, titled Six Letters, Two Words: Clues to Incalculable Losses, is a unique design with movable cubes that make sounds as people shift and turn over the cubes to explore the topic of worldwide bird extinction.

The other book, Change/Discovery, is a Jacob's ladder style, so that the reader-viewer sees the text while making the interconnected panels flip in a mesmerizing succession.

 

 

Images and more detailed descriptions of all the books mentioned on this page appear in this site's Portfolio of Selected Artist's Books.

 

GRANT:

I'm honored to have been selected as one of eight 2010-2011 Regional Artist Project of Northwest North Carolina grant recipients. This project is funded as a cooperative venture of the Alleghany Arts Council, the Ashe County Arts Council, the Watauga County Arts Council, and the Cultural Arts Council of Wilkes, with support from a Regional Artist Project Grant of the North Carolina Arts Council, a state agency. I'm very grateful for this support, which was applied toward my participation in this year's Paper & Book Intensive. During the May event in Michigan, I participated in workshops taught by Andrea Dezso (on tunnel books), Ann Frellsen (on basic book-conservation techniques), and Susan Skarsgard (on creating image and content in artists' books). The focused time with book-art colleagues fed my creative spirit and gave me invaluable ideas about more bookmaking possibilities.

 

 

TEACHING: 2011-2012 WORKSHOPS

*On July 23-24, 2012, I offered an"Envelope Meets Book" workshop at Appalachian State University's Turchin Center for the Visual Arts (in Boone, NC).

*On September 9-10, I offered a "Soft-Cover Coptic-Stitched Journal" workshop at the Paul and Florence Thomas Memorial Art School (in Glendale Springs, NC), in conjunction with Ashe County's On the Same Page Literary Festival. 

*On August 10-11, 2011, I offered the workshop Accordion-Book Adventures at the Florence Thomas Memorial Art School, in scenic Glendale Springs, NC. On the evening of August 9, I also offered an Instructor's Open Studio, in which I shared examples of my handmade books, offered some books for sale, and answered questions about the field of book arts. 

If you would like to discuss workshop possibilities with me, please e-mail me at  sharon@sharphandmadebooks.com.  


 

Thanks for your interest!  Please check back regularly for updates. Something new is always taking shape . . .