The artwork submitted for Bound and Unbound III, the International Juried Altered Book Exhibition to be shown in the library at the University of South Dakota came from artists around the world. Some 140 works, each qualified to be admitted into the show, were reviewed. I spent hours deciding on the final pieces. The books ranged from very sculptural solutions in three dimensions to two dimensional almost painterly solutions or compositions; many using non-traditional art materials such as waxed linen thread, felt, white-out, topsoil, fur, zippers, paperclips, salt, and a moth. Some artists recycled library books grinding them into paper pulp and remolding them. One series crystalized the book in Borax crystals creating a jeweled, reflective surface as if it were something you might find deep in a cave. The artists used materials in innovative combinations, some stunningly beautiful, some exotic, some pure Kitsch, while others seemed to be pure genius combining humor and historical references. These books were challenging presentations as creative solutions to the problem of altering a book.
I selected books I believed would challenge the viewer and make them interact with the work. Viewers would ask, how did the artist make that book, what does it mean to me, and where did the idea come from? Marcel Duchamp said long ago, he could create and manufacture a work of art but the viewer was the final piece of the work.
These artists ventured beyond the boundaries of traditional process some using new digital photographic processes, some creating paper sculptures incredibly complex, some meticulously creating forms that at first glance seemed to be a rock or a seashell but were actually layers very finely cut and constructed out of paper and placed in Joseph Cornel like shadow boxes.
The artist’s choice of what book to be altered was of interest to me. For example books I had not considered to be books such as Polk’s Grand Rapids City Directory, 1937, Kanawha River Navigation Charts, Huntington District authored by the US Army Corps of Engineers, Huntington, West Va., Nutrition Facts, Science Plans for Tomorrow, and Developing Language Skills, Leonardo Da Vinci’s Notebooks and Jansen’s History of Art were exciting to see used. A Nancy Drew mystery, Alice in Wonderland, Graham Greene’s The Destructors, The Odyssey of Homer and many dictionaries were intriguing choices. The artist chose a book and then inspired by it created a new book, often unreadable as a book but not as a work of art.
I hope the viewing public will find this work as exciting and challenging as I have. I would like to compliment all the artists who submitted to this exhibition and congratulate those whose work will be shown.
I would like to thank the University Libraries and Sarah Hanson for inviting me to jury this work; Danielle Loftus, fine arts and technology librarian, and the videographer, Alison Galbraith. It was a pleasure to have learned so much.