self portrait as a wicked book

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, artist book, artistic inspirations, handmade books, handmade papers, public art

Several of my artist books are in a permanent collection at Bainbridge Island Museum of Art and will be in a new exhibit, in March 2018, titled “Artist’s Books – Chapter 13 – Lyricism And Laughter”!

Here are a few photos of one of my books in the exhibit. It’s titled “Self Portrait As A Wicked Book”. I made it with handmade paper, hand-marbled paper, ink… and two original limerick poems.

The poems, on each side, are:

There was a young lady in Linen

who really loved laughter and sinnin’

She made wicked books that if given a look

you’d see that they’re often quite winnin’

——————

The lady in Linen was known,

for the books she is said to have sewn.

But when very hard pressed she began to protest

“Oh come now it’s quite over blown!”

 

When I exhibit my artist books I’m asked to write statements about them

Here, below, is what I wrote about “Self-portrait…”

Artist statement about the work:  By personifying herself as an open book – (or more precisely, as the linen thread binding the books within this book) –  with original limericks and pop-up book elements the artist pokes fun at self-styled “moral” groups who personify inanimate objects; books, movies and other art objects by describing them as “immoral”, “wicked” or “sinful”.  By writing “clean” limericks the artist is poking fun at the idea that a poetic form like a limerick could be defined as a “naughty” art.  An object or art form is just that, an object or technique – what people do with it may have a good, bad or neutral effect. But even the effect depends on the viewer’s perspective.  Thus “Self Portrait as a Wicked Book” is enclosed in a hand-marbled envelope – implying that the contents could be hidden from view, that the viewer has a choice to view it or not. The book is intended to be displayed accordion style so that the viewer can see it from different angles of their own choosing.  The textual reference within the limerick to “overblown” refers to the ways self-styled “moral” groups would ascribe moral qualities to the entire personhood of an author as a result of one written object the author had created.  The content also refers – both textually and by using colorful marbling and pop-ups – to the ways that censorship (or a “wicked” designation) actually increases interest in the object banned.

Artist’s back story for this book: A religious segment of the Oklahoma population has a penchant for banning books and a history of doing so.  To name two dramatic examples;  In 1997 the book “The Tin Drum” by Gunter Grass  and the movie by the same name was banned by Oklahoma City in such a way that the banning received national attention; Oklahoma City police went to the houses of adults, over the age of 21, who had rented the movie and seized it.  In 2005, the year I made “Self Portrait As A Wicked Book”, the Oklahoma House of Representatives banned all books – for children and adults – that had references to gay characters or gay people.  Around that time period I remember noticing that (in Oklahoma) the commercial bookstores “gay book sections” got smaller and were hidden the back corner of the store.  Books that questioned religion, or discussed censorship in anything but a positive light were also few and far between.  There was a general perception – as evidenced by what was offered on library or bookstore shelves and what wasn’t, what books were reviewed in the Oklahoma media and what ones weren’t – that there were “good” books and there were bad, sinful, “wicked” ones – and this one group of self-styled “moral” people would tell you which books were which and few people in Oklahoma dared (or even thought) to question that group.