I made my first ‘artist book’ when I was about 6 years old. I had become deaf when I was about 4 or 5. It happened in summer and my birthday is in the summer so was I still 4 years old when it happened, or had I turned 5? At any rate the world became silent. This was not a problem for me. It was just my normal life before I got my first set of hearing aids. I lived with my grandmother and life was good. Except for the brief times when I was taken to visit my biological parents. During the weekends at their house an angry yelling adult frequently appeared in my field of vision shouting “BE QUIET!”
This was a mystery to me. What did the phrase “be quiet” mean? I had already learned to read, write and draw. I already knew that the public library was a place full of wonderful magical books full of mysterious things that other people knew. Books were how people collected and kept what they learned and how they made it available for kids like me to see! (Wow!) So after a few weekends of two adults taking turns shouting “BE QUIET” I began my investigation.
I gathered several sheets of paper together and stapled them along one edge. I began to record, mostly in drawings, what I had just been doing when the “BE QUIET” message was delivered at the top of grownup lungs. Between these weekends I went with my grandmother to the library. There I asked a librarian how I would find out what the phrase “be quiet” meant and how someone did that ‘be quiet’ thing.
I don’t recall the exact encounter with the librarian, I mostly remember having a lot of trouble explaining what exactly it was that I wanted to learn. I remember eventually being introduced to the Dictionary and other books containing information about ears, hearing and sound. I wrote and drew, in fat-first-grade pencil, everything I learned into my stapled handmade book. When I was done, and back at home with grandmother again, I created a yellow colored construction paper cover for my book, glued one edge of the construction paper to the staples and titled it, in red crayon, “The Be Quietness Book”.
Long story short I had created my first entry into what, as an adult, I’ve learned is a genre within the Book Arts world: “Books that help you think about and make sense of your experience in the world”
Hey look! A freelance editor friend of mine is going “public” with her editorial-ship-ness! Yea I made up a hyphenated (caffeinated?) word just to play with her mind. You may be thinking “what’s a creative visual artist doing cultivating a friendship with an editor-type?” Well I want to play-well-with-others in the publishing and gallery worlds so it seems a good thing to have my eye’s spotted and my tee’s golfed. Or is that i’s dotted and t’s… See what I mean? Editor’s rule! And Lorna’s a dam* good one – I know because I’ve consulted with her a time or two.
Well today I pulled up my big artist pants, squared my shoulders, and submitted my artist book “A Fish Story” to the 23 Sandy Gallery www.23sandy.com for an upcoming juried book arts exhibit titled “Pop-Up Now II”. Wish me luck! I’m hoping to get to play with the big artists in that exhibit! The juror’s are impressive (intimidating?!) – the artist’s who were in the first “Pop-Up” exhibit at 23 Sandy were OMG awesome (you can see some of their book-work via this link here: http://23sandy.com/works/product-category/curated-collections/pop-up-movable) – So I have a serious case of the little kid to big kid adoration. You know stuff along the lines of “Oh I wanna play! Pick me! Please? Pretty please? I’ll show you my glue and paper collection…I can do this… I wanna learn that…Show me how… teach me ….let me…aww com’on…”
And this gives you a glimpse into my philosophy of selecting which gallery and which arts events I try to participate in: Does it inspire me to do my absolute best? Does it challenge me as an artist? If the answer is yes – then I get my brave on and go for it! No matter what the outcome is – I’ll learn something in the process and I’ll become a better artist for the effort!
One of the big learning curves – besides making a pop-up book with 4 different movable pop-up mechanisms (whew!) – was making a video of “A Fish Story”! I’m so gosh-darn proud of it I’m posting a link to it again here: https://youtu.be/3gx6QmzXlpM – and in case you’ve just joined this show here is a still photo of one of the pages of “A Fish Story” – that green tab lets the viewer move the fish into the water away from the fisherman. (Yep, that mechanism was hard to construct… but details about that is a different blog post.)
page from the artist book “A Fish Story” by Sue Clancy
Here is the long awaited video of my artist book “A Fish Story” – first I had to catch it (make the video), then I had to grill it (edit it down to one minute – the gallery wants all videos at a minute or less) then I had to de-bone it (remove the sound) after a next-door friend said he could hear his electric sander in the background of the video. (Q: How does a deaf person edit sound on a video? A: Verrry carefully with help from spouse and friends!) But finally… here is A Fish Story!
Practicing my video techniques again in prep for filming my pop-up book “A Fish Story” (see more about that elsewhere on my blog)… this time I’m practicing video with a rabbit. Even had to “trim” my original video. But don’t worry, no actual bunnies were harmed in the production of this artist book or the film of it.
Recently I took a wonderful road trip to Boise Idaho to visit family there. Drove through the Columbia River Gorge on the Oregon side… saw waterfalls on the way to Idaho, saw the sunlight on the Boise foothills, then on the way home – again through the Columbia River Gorge – there was a spectacular sunset, sun shining on the rocky cliffs above the water. Needless to say I jotted pattern notes in my sketchbook. (I stopped at a rest stop to do that – don’t worry I did not draw and drive!) When I got back to the studio I created my patterns on handmade paper and then, after the papers were dry, photographed and uploaded the patterns to my signature collection at VIDA. http://shopvida.com/collections/voices/sue-clancy I’m imagining how fun it will be in the middle of winter to wear a waterfall, a summer sunset or the sunlit Boise foothills!
Here I go again practicing filming one of my artist books in action. My pop-up book “A Fish Story” (pictured in earlier blog posts) is in stages of drying – and when it’s dry I’ll have to show it’s pop-up glory (ahem, cough!) on film. So… I’m working up to that one. In the meantime I’m practicing video techniques with my other artist books. This one, titled “Geo Erosion” is an altered book: I took an existing geology textbook and used an Xacto knife to cut out erosion patterns in the paper. Now, less talk more video:
As readers of my blog know I’m working on a pop-up book titled “A Fish Story”. Eventually (when the book is finished) I’ll submit it to the 23 Sandy Gallery – the gallery owner has asked for videos of our pop-up books because of the active movable parts – a juror needs to see it in…action. So I thought I’d better practice the whole “do a video of an artist book thing”. Here is a link to a youtube video of one my artist books titled “Coffee Beans Plus H2o” – used as a practice baby-step. Fair warning: there will be more practice “video-a-book” attempts in the future. Deep breath…here goes…
As I’ve been sharing on my blog today – www.sueclancy.com – I’m working on a pop-up book titled “A Fish Story”. In the photos below I’m living dangerously; I’m taking my now-dry pages and binding them carefully so that the parts that make the movable pop-up parts will be hidden – but will still allow for movement. In one of the photos you can see some of the hidden works before it’s hidden. I call the binding “living dangerously” because I’ve spent months at hand making each page so one slip of my knife now, or a mistake with the binding, and a page is dead! Some people sky dive or bungee cord jump or visit with elderly relatives… me, I bind a pop-up book. Whew!
Living dangerously and binding a pop-up book titled “A Fish Story” by Sue Clancy
A few of the dry pages from the pop-up book “A Fish Story” by Sue Clancy
As I posted to my http://www.sueclancy.com blog a bit ago I’m working on a pop-up book titled “A Fish Story”. Here is another photo of some freshly made (caught?) page spreads; the page at the top has a fishing line that moves, the page at the bottom has a fish that moves. In the photo I’m checking to see that the movable parts still move even after swimming in all that glue!
Two page spreads from an in-progress pop-up book “A Fish Story” by Sue Clancy