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News from Dowd House Studios: places to find our pottery, exhibitions, classes & workshops, new forms and exciting projects.

Filtering by Tag: Laramie County Library


Jenny Dowd

It's time for the Laramie County Library annual book arts exhibition, Inspiration and the Artist Book. As usual, this year's theme left me stumped for a few months: Ensemble. I rolled the idea around in my head as I worked on other projects and brainstormed with my dad (now you know my secret!)

This time I went tiny, deciding to make an ensemble of clothing. But it's not just any clothing- these items are made from the pages of an old book.

I started out by making tiny patterns and testing how to fold the paper with the fewest number of folds or overlaps. 

I really wanted a hat as part of this wardrobe, it took me a few tries to figure out how to display it. At first I made a stand-alone hat rack, but that seemed too complicated. In the end I added a little hook onto the clothing stand so all the little pieces would be together.

The clothing rack and hangers are made from black wire. I like the gestural line quality and felt it fit well with the pages of text.

The final piece is very small, 8 inches tall by 10 inches long.

Book Jackets

Each person is a book. We are each an ensemble of ideas, information, fact, fiction, stories, dreams and musings. In order to face the day we wrap ourselves in what we have, leaving space in the wardrobe for more items and changing styles.

By mixing and matching we create a story to be presented to the world, adding and sharing pages and pieces through conversation, reading, living, and researching.

This tiny delicate piece was also a challenge to pack for shipping. In the end it occupied a much larger box than I would have imagined for such a small piece... but the box only weighed 4 pounds!

Visit this book sculpture in person and see how all the other artists interpreted "Ensemble." The show will be on display at the Laramie County Library in Cheyenne, WY from June 8 - August 8, 2018.

Flowers still grow

Jenny Dowd

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.

I made hills out of the discarded pages and used correction tape to obscure any words with meaning, leaving behind only a few pronouns, articles, and indirect objects. 

Gluing everything together was interesting: 

When I was finished, I had a little fun making a stop-action video:

Flowers still grow

One book is an infinite, hand-held universe. It has the ability to introduce unknown places and ideas with questions, experiences, and thoughts. Just one book is capable of leading a reader on a lifetime of learning and searching.

This book represents a dystopian world of redacted and heavily censored information. While this could be a diagram for the ideal, utopian meadow, it still contains an element of dread. Set like a stage with delicate clouds hanging from thread over rhythmic hills, the subject of the book remains unknown and creates a suspiciously dull scene.

White flowers reflect what little nutrients are available to be gleaned from sanitized, stripped soil, but they are growing. Hope and the ability to evolve will always be found where something grows.

The exhibition will be at the Laramie County Library in Cheyenne, Wyoming from June 9 - August 7, 2017. If you are in the area be sure to stop by and see how several artists interpreted this theme!

Life is a Game

Jenny Dowd

There's nothing like a deadline to help an artist actually finish something.

In January I was invited to create a piece for the Laramie County Library Book Arts Invitational. While that is plenty of time, I spent a few months puzzling over the theme for this year's exhibition: The Game of Life. After hashing out several ideas I finally landed on actually making a game.

Onto 52 cards cut from a very heavy watercolor paper, I assigned each card a topic from the following categories: Life Event, Helpful Tool, Surprise. 

I started each drawing with an ink wash, then layered the details in with a pen. After cutting my thumb, even the bandaid got into the spirit of the game and dressed up like a ghost.

As you might expect, this set of cards has many more surprises than tools and events. And probably more bad surprises than good. Zombies, sharks, snakes, a giant spider but there are also surprises like a fancy cake, vacation and presents. 

I kept most of the drawings open to interpretation: a desolate desert road- are you lost or traveling in a foreign land, luggage- are you going on a trip or moving out? 

This has been a big project, but also portable. I took the cards with me for a tea break between teaching classes last Thursday. It's also hard to stop a project when I'm really excited, so it has been nice to take them with me.

Some surprises are good while some are bad- Surprise... Your shoe has a hole in it! Others are really bad... Pterodactyl!  

A few life events; Too much work / Baby / Camping trip

Now I'm working on the final details; sanding the rough corners and testing some ideas for the back of the cards.

The cards will fit into a box; here is a hint as to the final presentation.

So, how does the game work? I have no idea. Since life does not come with instructions, neither does my Game of Life.

By next weekend the game will be finished (or ready to be played?) I will put images on my website under Other Projects.

If you are in Cheyenne this summer, be sure to check out the show and see how other Wyoming artists interpreted this theme!

Laramie County Library, Cheyenne, WY

Exhibition dates: June 9 - August 7, 2016

Opening Event: June 17