Artist Statement: Paperless Books
I like to tell people that I am not an artist. I do not make ‘Big Art for Big Houses.’ I am, instead, an artisan. I make artifacts – real tangible things that live on a wall or bloom in the hand. Intimate, unique art for quiet or triumphant settings, to be shared not with boardrooms and vast parties, but with small gatherings of the people who matter most in life.
I credit my sense of color to growing up in the spectacular landscapes of northern New Mexico, and my love of different artistic media from the patchwork of cultures in the American Southwest. My intricate mixed-media artists’ books and wall-hangings are influenced by my interests in archaeology and folk art, science and myth, as well as a strong belief in the validity of fine craft as an art form. Living in Arizona since 1987 has taught me to value my early artistic training all the more.
Fine artists – those working in painting, sculpture, drawing, and printing – have considered themselves separate from craft artisans for the last five hundred years. Even so, that separation occurs mostly in Western European cultures. For the rest of the world, and the rest of human history, people have been making art out of every material they could use. For that reason, as well as my innate contrariness, I chose to limit my artists’ books in only one way: I do not use paper. Historically, entire books have been made from wood, leather, jade, silk, palm-leaves, gold-foil, and ivory, just to name a few materials. I have a lot of ground to cover!
I’m also drawn by the special possibilities of books: layers of art and text hidden behind covers, ideas that can only be grasped by a viewer’s total and sometimes even hypnotic participation in the work. Books connote a ceremonial reverence for knowledge, so why not recreate artists’ books that play on that ceremonial theme and take psychological advantage of it? I could make purses that are as intricate and expensive as these little books. They would certainly be more versatile and marketable. But the people who would fall in love with a purse are generally not the same people who love a book – and the latter sort are my people!
Books by artist