Earlier this year I was invited to participate in the Laramie County Library's summer exhibition, Inspiration and the Artist Book. I was especially excited partly because this exhibition has a yearly theme. This is a challenge I look forward to, knowing that it will take me out of my current box. The 2017 exhibition, curated by Sue Sommers, is Utopia/Dystopia.
Since I don't usually make art with a theme in mind, I find this addition at first jarring and then liberating. I must pass through a few stages:
1. Shock: What?? How do I do That?
2. Acceptance: Hmmm... but it could mean this... or it could mean that...
3. Problem solving: I've looked at several angles, now how do I say what I want to say within this frame?
4. Grateful: I've stretched, learned a bit, and have made something that I would not have come up with otherwise.
While thinking about how to interpret Utopia/Dystopia I kept coming back to books and information, and not only because this show is in a library! I thought about the porcelain books I used to make (see them here) and thought about what a dystopian landscape would look like to me: a heavily censored world with nothing to read.
In order to execute this idea, I decided to alter a book. I recognize that this is a weird process. I love the tactile feeling of books. They offer escape and education all in one place, so destroying a book seems like the last thing I would want to do. However, I see this an an opportunity to redirect the life of an object that has been produced in multiples and has been discarded. (This book was found at the Teton County Library where I have taught book altering classes in the past, they let me pilfer the collection of books that will be in an upcoming book sale.)
For this project I found a particular sized book with a black, hard cover. After distressing the cover I went to work cutting away the interior to create a niche for my hidden utopia.