Book as Object: An International Survey of Sculptural Book Art




Book as Object
An International Survey of Sculptural Bookworks


October 31 – December 19, 2006


Artists: Alicia Bailey, Byron T. Clercx, Deborah Horner, Angela Lorenz, Lise Melhorn-Boe, Catherine Nash, Tara O’Brien, Susan Joy Share

Guest Curator’s Statement

Alicia Bailey

When the Colorado College Coburn Gallery Exhibition Committee offered me the opportunity to curate a book arts exhibition, I was given free rein to determine and establish my own format and emphasis. My interest in more sculptural aspects of interactive, three-dimensional objects, or books, has grown over the years, both in the work I create and the pieces I’m most interested in as viewer or participant.

I am delighted that my proposal for an exhibition featuring eight artists who work with the book form as sculptural object has been met with enthusiasm and support. Equally gratifying is the committee’s wish to include my work in the exhibit, and to provide resources for expanded programming to surround and amplify the exhibition.

Contemporary book arts encompass a wide range of approaches, including design binding, calligraphy, limited-edition and fine press, broadsides, artists’ books, altered books, journals and so forth. The genre presented here is part of the sculptural books, or book-as-object category. These pieces challenge the collective definition of ‘book’ while retaining visual, haptic and interactive qualities of ‘book’.

Books meant to be held, read, perused or studied contain themselves in a way that many of this exhibition’s works do not. The pieces in this exhibit are more outward in their focus and, while some certainly are interactive, others emphasize engagement with their own physical space at least as much as engagement with the reader/viewer.

Any book project demands a high level of involvement with its conceptualization, planning, design, and production. When the resultant objects move beyond containment toward interaction with the environment where they are placed, even more participation is required from both artist and viewer.

The artists featured in “Book as Object” utilize a far-flung variety of materials and approach to create a diverse collection of works. Included are one-of-a-kind and limited-edition pieces that can be performed by artist or viewer, objects that resemble books but aren’t meant to be read, structures housing individual and precious bookworks as part of a larger whole, installations created from altered book pages, and, finally, installations referencing the book form only by use of sequencing, text and image.

Regardless of the end result, all emphasize a relationship between form, content, and the treatment materials receive by the artist’s hands. These works call for space and time and invite a contemplative and playful approach and exploration by the “reader.”

I am grateful for the opportunity to work with Jessica Hunter Larsen, Curator, and Daisy McConnell, Assistant Curator, as well as Exhibition Committee members Jeanne Steiner and Daniel Raffin. I also thank the artists participating in the Book as Object exhibit; it is always a pleasure to work with artists of this caliber. I thank each one for accepting my invitation to participate in this exhibit.