While recycling and appropriation are not new to the practice of art making, the use of found materials in bookmaking is a departure from the norm. In our technologically advanced age of impersonal production processes, creating a bound text through printmaking is a diminishing art. In the most recent show at the Art From Scrap Gallery, bookmaking and book objects find a renewed existence via the inherent potential of recycled objects.
The show is generous in its definition of book “objects,” not limiting the artists to the traditional manifestations of a book. Recycled glassware, carob pods, and cheese graters are just a few examples of alternative materials used by artists in the show. Some of these works integrate actual text on paper, but many incorporate other objects-UPS stickers, Rolodex cards, or German doll parts-to create the semblance of a book.
Sandra and Harry Reese use this format to present the culmination of their I Ching project, in which they find coins on the street and catalog them in a resourceful display of multimedia surplus. Paintings and drawings on paper handmade from eucalyptus leaves and cotton are integrated with scraps of text from newspapers, magazines, and junk mail. With few paper sources left uncovered, their piece “Light Coming Back” acts as a diary of found objects made of found objects.
Meanwhile, artist Pamela Zwehl-Burke produces crafty simulations of books, including a paper screen composed of materials that would typically be found in an 18th-century cabinet of curiosities. In “Re-Re-Re,” Zwehl-Burke delicately ties, sews, and binds together natural detritus in various states of decay, including feathers, egg shells, twigs, oversized leaves, and small bird skulls. Rather than evoking the macabre, this mixed-media work is a charming testament to nature’s intimate surprises.
While there are a few pieces in this show that lack ingenuity in the re-imagining of their media, Book Objects proves that artisanship is a thriving practice and a method that can be used to reinvent the relevant.