the rough bark of culture

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, art techniques, artist book, artistic inspirations, Authors, books, creative thinking, dog portrait, Dogs in Art, fine art, handmade books, handmade papers, mental health, visual thinking, words and pictures

This coming Friday at the Joseph Gierek Fine Art Gallery (www.gierek.com) an experimental art exhibit of mine titled “The Rough Bark Of Culture” opens!

Yes, there are dogs. Lots of dogs. About 24 of them. Dog art that is. Clancy style.

The experimental part of this exhibit is that instead of being 24 works framed and hanging on the wall like a typical art installation – I’ve added my artist book thinking to my fine-art exhibit idea.  Which means my entire exhibit is intended to be an intimate experience.  Think curling up with a book. Or playing with a deck of cards.

Lucky for artist-me the gallery owner is willing to be playful.

Here’s what gallery-visitors will find: a box that looks like a leather bound book. I made the box and covered it with my hand dyed paper, paper that I’ve given a rough physical and visual texture. I designed the cover and the spine and various elements so that it appears like a book.  When closed this book-box measures 9 inches tall 7 inches wide and 2.5 inches deep. When you open the top “cover” it opens out to be 14 inches wide.

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Below are a couple of different angle-views of the cover so you can see the spine has the typical book-markings and that the edges of the box are painted to look like book text block “pages”.

Inside the book-box cover is a handwritten statement that puts my art-object-exhibit in a context.

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Then further inside there are 24 individual hand created dog art pieces done in my ink on handmade paper style. Each artwork is in an archival sleeve so that a viewer can flip through the box-contents like a book. (there’s even a ribbon to help people lift out the ‘pages’) Or the viewer can take out the pages and lay them out on a table and re-sort them.

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Below is some of my thinking behind the exhibit – including my resource book list. I referred to some of this book-research-resource mining in an early blog post here.

General exhibit thoughts for “The Rough Bark of Culture” by Sue Clancy

It is said that humans are the only animal that laughs, cooks (using heat and spices/herbs), develops music, creates art, writes/collects/organizes/shares information across time and space, sorts things numerically and devises elaborate rules for playing games simply for amusement. The ability to read and absorb information via symbols in pictorial and written form is also a uniquely human ability.

Humans are curious, they experiment, seeking novelty and creativity. Wanting enthusiasm – not boredom – they play. Play is part of being human. Play is also an essential component of being creative.

Creativity, communication and organization are attributes of being human. But in modern times it can be hard (rough) to carve out time to play, to be creative, to sort and organize information – to do those very things that make us human.

This exhibit is about what makes us human.

Why dogs? Dogs are enthusiastic about being alive – that’s why I’ve chosen them as my character “actors” in my artwork.  It’s a way of remembering that humans have the ability to create the world around them in ways that make life more comfortable, more fun – so that we can be more enthusiastic about being alive.

Reference material:

“Wonderland: How play made the modern world” by Steven Johnson

“The Creative Spark: How imagination made humans exceptional” by Agustin Fuentes

A quote I used as a guiding light – so to speak:

“To imagine is everything. To know is nothing at all.” Anatole France

Exhibit statement (which means I neatened up for handwritten inclusion in my book-box the thoughts outlined above):

It is said that humans are the only animal that; laughs, cooks (using heat and spices/herbs), specially crafts beverages, develops music, creates art, writes/collects/shares information across time and space, sorts things numerically, reads books/information in order to learn and devises elaborate rules for playing games simply for amusement. Humans sometimes share with dogs an enthusiasm at being alive – seeking novelty and creativity rather than boredom.  Unlike a dog, humans are able to plan and organize our time. We can defer gratification. Yet modern life sometimes makes it hard to carve out time to be creative – rough to do the very things that make us human; play.  This exhibit is about remembering to be human and enjoy life.

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If you want a flavor, a hint, of what this exhibit is like there’s my conventionally printed and bound book “Dogs by Sue Clancy” – https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Dogs-By-Sue-Clancy

Creating a conventional book on this exhibit topic helped cement my idea that I also wanted my viewers to be able to physically “play” with my artwork. Even so – I’m proud of the printed and bound book too. It’s playfulness of a different sort. And able to be more widely available than a one-of-a-kind-art-exhibit in a gallery can be. Having both kinds of play available – the team kind or the individual kind – are important to me.

And speaking of teams; it’s almost time for me to go meet up with friends for a book-store browse and then to go to happy hour! Adult team play! Yippeeee!!

coffee book featured in Colorado

A Creative Life, art gallery, artist book, books, handmade books, words and pictures

My artist book “Coffee Beans Plus H2o” is featured at the Abecedarian Gallery in Colorado!  I’ve loved it that the gallery owner and some other artist’s who’ve commented privately  have “gotten it” that in this book I was playing with a concept of time! I’d worried about whether that was getting across so I can’t tell you how much it feeds my artist soul to hear supportive “I understand this” comments from people – and from people in the book-arts-field too! Wahoo!! I’m happy dancing around my art studio today!!  Thank you thank you everyone!!!

Check out the gallery website here: http://abecedariangallery.com/store/product-category/new-and-featured-inventory/ – scroll down where they list the “new and featured inventory” – and lookee there’s my work among some other really awesome book-arts work! Wow! Pinch me – am I dreaming? Look at the other artist’s work – Wow impressive!

And here’s the specific gallery page about my book: http://abecedariangallery.com/store/shop/sue-clancy-coffee-beans-plus-h20/

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Coffee Beans Plus H2o by Sue Clancy – an artist book handmade with hand carved printing blocks and printmaking techniques applied on used coffee filters as a way of artistically exploring the concept of time. 

You can also find additional info about this book on my YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTz7Wzr-bj2RbePAsbrHmLw

quiet books noisy thoughts

A Creative Life, art techniques, artist book, books, handmade books, visual story, words and pictures, writing

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”

And I’ve been making artist books ever since. You can see some of them on my artist book page here: https://sueclancy.com/artist-books/

Photo of me laughing and drinking coffee while working in my studio.

Photo of me laughing and drinking coffee while working in my studio.

big artist pants

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, art techniques, artist book, books, handmade books, handmade papers, visual story, words and pictures

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.)

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page from the artist book “A Fish Story” by Sue Clancy

Finally A Fish Story

A Creative Life, animals in art, art gallery, artist book, books, handmade books, handmade papers, visual story, words and pictures

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!

artist book rabbit

A Creative Life, animals in art, artist book, books, handmade books, handmade papers, illustration, poetry, words and pictures

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.

artist book Geo Erosion

A Creative Life, art techniques, artist book, books, handmade books, visual story

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:

inner youtube-ing

A Creative Life, art gallery, artist book, handmade books, visual story

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…

a fish story progressing dangerously

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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

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

A few of the dry pages from the pop-up book “A Fish Story” by Sue Clancy

 

 

more fish story progress

art techniques, artist book, books, handmade books, handmade papers, visual story, words and pictures, writing

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

Two page spreads from an in-progress pop-up book “A Fish Story” by Sue Clancy