My husband has this habit of cutting up books to use for other things like birthday cards or collages or sometimes he will tear out a page he likes just to frame it and hang it on the wall. I know that this sounds like sacrilege to most book lovers and I admit that I really, really, really miss my copy of Mind Fields with it’s beautifully surreal and detailed illustrations by Jacek Yerka, but I just can’t get mad at him for wanting to repurpose the pages because I grew up with a book artist in the family.
When I say book art, I am not talking about those 3-d book sculptures you see everywhere now with cleverly folded pages so that the open book spells a single word. Usually LOVE or HOPE or something along those lines. I mean, if that’s your thing, that’s fine, but I want to talk about book art. Book art can be almost anything from modifying an existing book to creating a book out of unconventional materials or just about anything else you can think of that is both booky and arty. So, I guess technically the paper-folding sculptures are “book art,” but I like my art to be just a little more open to interpretation. Some of my favorite book art doesn’t even look like books. Petra Press (more about her below) once made a book that was a larger than life dress. A dress for a giantess with layer upon layer of text-filled fabric that told a story it isn’t even possible to read. I don’t remember if it had an official title, but I remember it as the Queen of the Night Dress. It was beautiful and terrible in a Grimm’s fairy tale kind of a way and in my dreams I am enormous and I wear it and I sing the story that it tells, but when I wake up I never remember what it was.
Woodland Patterns, which may be the last independent bookstore in Milwaukee, holds an annual Edible Book show that features everything from pop tart picture books to screen printed filo dough. And when you are done admiring the artistry, you can have a tasty snack. It’s all very Zen. And great fun.
Petra Press is a book artist/fiber artist/sculptor/print maker/stepmother extraordinaire and you can see some of her beautiful works, including a collaboration with her poetic partner in crime David Press (aka my dad), HERE. Petra’s book art is mixed media and multidimensional and usually dark (but not brooding). It often incorporates mythological and religious iconography alongside pop culture images, text, and original images. That is a truly inadequate description though, so you should follow the link above and check some of it out for yourself.
Some of her work is sold by Vamp and Tramp (the picture shown came from their site). Play around on their website to see other impressive artists as well. Some of my other faves from this agent include Laura Wait, Bryan Kring, and Carrie Ann Plank, but there are so many more and I could literally lose hours just scrolling through this website.
Apparently, there was an international book art fair in Rotterdam last February. Who knew? I would have paid almost any amount of money to escape the brutal cold last February. Who’s in for next year?