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Shawn Sheehy ~ Illinois

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Shawn Sheehy: "Artists' books can uniquely communicate complex narrative concepts through image-based and text-based channels. Within the book arts, I am most attracted to creating pop-ups—I enjoy working sculpturally within the book format. I enjoy the engineering challenge involved in developing intricate dimensional forms that fold flat."

SFCB Shelter in Studio: Shawn Sheehy

Fresh Cut Xmas: A Well-Trimmed Survey of Holiday Plants

Volume Three of the Plant Lore of the 21st Century
By Shawn Sheehy
Chicago: paperboy press, 2017. Edition of 50.

6.5”h x 4.5”w x 1.5”d; 31 pages including back pastedown with colophon. 12 double-page pop ups. Concepted, engineered, designed, and assembled by the artist. Text printed from polymer plates by Eileen Madden at ChiPress. Type set digitally in Italian Electric. Commercial cover stock. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Shawn Sheehy: "Fresh Cut Xmas: A Well-Trimmed Survey of Holiday Plants celebrates the flora that has played a role in winter holidays for centuries. In contrast with the excess of contemporary seasonal traditions, the style of this book is minimal; the palette is spare, the baubles are few, and the text on each page is composed using the haiku’s 17 stark syllables.

"As with the first two books in this botanical series (A Pop-Up Field Guide to North American Wildflowers and A Pop-Up Culinary Herbal), Fresh Cut Xmas looks at ancient plant folklore with a contemporary lens, with the intent of understanding and appreciating each plant more fully."

Tasty poppy seeds
Symbolize good fortune, but
Avoid a drug test


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By Shawn Sheehy
Chicago: Paperboy Press, 2014. Edition of 30.

7 x 7.5"; 2 pages. Single tab pull up. Typesetting and assembly assistance by students of Lawrence University and the Paper Fox Printmaking Shop. Letterpress printed by Benjamin Rinehart. Written, Designed and Engineered by Shawn Sheehy. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Shawn Sheehy: "My artist books explore the dynamic ecologies that operate in both wild and cultured environments. In the wild, I'm interested in the feedback loops that maintain healthy proportions among carnivores, herbivores, and plants in a given ecosystem. I suspect that adopting these wild-world ecologies might be useful in our efforts as humans to live sustainably, and they might serve as antidote to a Western production model that requires growth, expansion, and an ever-increasing profit margin. I also enjoy studying the ways in which biological evolution and cultural evolution inform each other."

EELIO is the second in the Enviro-Gods Series - the first in the series being Hesperana (editioned for a Hand Papermaking Portfolio, and therefore not available for sale as an individual unit).

Shawn Sheehy: "With Hesperana, the name is built from 'rana,' a genus for frogs, and 'esperanza,' Spanish for hope, and 'Hesper,' the evening star for the greeks. This frog diety plays with the idea of frogs being a sort of miner's canary of the natural world, since frogs will be one of the earliest species to show mutations in a toxic environment. Her 'super-ness' is evidenced by her little pink wings that pop out when her tab is pulled -- these same little wings are also meant to reflect that weird extra limbs that show up on the poisoned mutant frogs.

Eelio, I'm aiming for a number of the similar plays of word and biology. Eelio is a fusion of 'eel and 'helio.' Helios is the greek personification of the sun (source of energy) and of course helium is named after Helios. Helium has the strange characteristic of being somewhat rare on Earth, but particularly abundant in the universe. Helium stands then as a useful symbol for the energy paradox we experience on the Earth – we have abundant energy, but we can't figure out the right ways to use it, and are therefore quickly and inefficient depleting our finite sources. Because some eels can generate their own electricity, I like it as an animal to serve as an energy god. I like how putting solar sails (method for efficiently collecting and using solar energy) as wings onto an eel body, and then also giving that body the cool breath-flame of natural gas burning (reflecting human use of natural energy resources) also becomes very dragon-like, and reminiscent of mythical creatures of which we are accustomed."

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Shawn Sheehy Out of Print Title:  

A Pop-Up Culinary Herbal
Volume Two of the Plant Lore of the 21st Century Series
by Shawn Wilder Sheehy
Chicago: paperboy press, 2013. Edition of 30.

6.5 x 4.5 x 1.25"; 12 double-page pop-ups, 6 text pages. Shawn Sheehy conceived, engineered, and designed this herbal. Sarah Vogel letterpress printed the text and assisted with assembly. Each vegetable is accompanied by supporting text in a 2-page booklet (2.5 x 2.5") adhered to the page. All stock is commercial cover in varying weights from various manufacturers. All type was digitally set in Italian Electric and output to polymer plates. Bound in chipboard and paper covers. Signed and numbered by Sheehy.

Shawn Sheehy: "A Pop-Up Culinary Herbal puts ancient medicinal theory into modern practice. Using pre-scientific logic, it links vegetables and their curative properties with 21st-century ills — both societal and individual. Though the cures are fictions, some parts of each listing are true: each of the 12 cultivars is an authentic heirloom, the listing of constituents is accurate, and the nutritional value of each vegetable is verified by modern science. "

The largest vegetable ever grown was a pumpkin. This New World crowd-pleaser has the heft and charm to take down any Old World ideology, especially fundamentalism. Do you know Tea Partyists who oppose same-sex marriage? Help them focus on improving opposite-sex marriage. Do you know Jihadists who destroy ancient artifacts? Help them focus on creating new ones. Serve pumpkin as pie or bread; it tastes better with a little sugar and butter.

$1,500 (SOLD)

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A Pop-Up Field Guide to North American Wildflowers
By Shawn Wilder Sheehy and Sarah Vogel
Chicago: paperboy press, 2011. Edition of 30.

6.5 x 4.5 x 1.25"; 30 pages. 12 double-page pop-ups. Letterpress printed. Commercial cover paper in varying weights from various manufacturers. Text on the pop-up pages hand set in Italian. Other text digitally set in Italian Electric and printed by polymer plates. Quarter bound with green paper over commercial stock board. Concept and design by Sheehy. Letterpress by Vogel. Includes essay " A Language of Flowers for the 21st Century" by Sheehy.

A Pop-Up Field Guide to North American Wildflowers combines the talents of two individuals - Shawn Sheehy and Sarah Vogel. Sheehy uses paper engineering and paper making along with his interest in science and biology to produce sculptural pop-up books. Vogel is a letterpress printer, book artist, and printmaker who works in reduction linocuts.

Shawn Sheehy: "A Pop-Up Field Guide to North American Wildflowers celebrates species from the most showy to the most humble. Not merely a floral survey, this field guide is also a cultural survey-namely, an essay detailing a 21st century Language of Flowers."

Shawn Sheehy, Language of Flowers: "Last year I bought a house previously owned by a 60-year-old woman. She planted the quintessential 'old lady' flowers: roses, hydrangea, peonies. My changes to the garden are distinctly contemporary; I'm planting natives and unusual specimens in diverse beds. It recently occurred to me that our shifting tastes in gardening should be accompanied by a new floral language that reflects contemporary culture. For example: if some past maiden wanted some past sailor to remember her love when he was away at sea, her going-away gift to him would be forget-me-nots. Here are some ideas for a 21st century floral language ...."

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Page last update: 08.05.2023


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