As a book artist, I am endlessly fascinated with all things book related and can’t see enough of the imagination employed by artists to re-interpret this form. I participate in some online communities whose focus is on book binding and book arts. My participation in these groups fills my life with a wondrous and at times quite breathtaking array of book-related arts and works. With participation has come the gift of friendship with some of these talented artists. They bring so much pleasure and inspiration to my life that I thought it would be nice to share my favourites with you. There are, of course, many well-known and talented book artists in these groups whose names are frequently seen, and I would love to share all of them. However, I thought today I would like to share the breathtaking work of some lesser-known artists you might not be aware of.
An artist whose work never fails to catch my immediate attention is the British artist Su Blackwell. I have frequently shared her works on my Facebook page for their perfect detail and winsome atmosphere. Su took an MA in textile art from the Royal College of Art in London, but it was her travels in Thailand that opened her eyes to the wonders of paper. Su has become known for training her delicate focus on fairy tales in her works. She does so with a perfect feeling for the nostalgia of the piece, and breathes life into precious stories we remember from our childhood days. Yet these are not sugar-coated pastel-painted children’s stories. Through her innate sense of staging, her use of lighting and backdrop, Su creates an atmosphere with an undercurrent of slight menace, the lurking wolf among the trees . . . the child lost in the woods, the beckon of a lit window. The vignettes she creates invite. I want to peer through the tiny lit window . . board the illuminated rail car and discover the even greater wonders that must be hidden within. I hope you will visit her website and see these treasures, and how she has moved to interpreting the magic on a larger scale.
One of the greatest gifts of friendship that has come through my door has been with Nancy Trottier of Ducks in a Row Press in Ontario. Nancy combines her beautiful sense of colour and pattern in printmaking with sweet artist’s book forms that want to be handled and enjoyed. Nancy imbues her work with her truly thoughtful and deeply spiritual nature. She has shown a generosity of thought in our friendship that I have rarely encountered in another human being, and our shared vision for the voice this work can embody has bonded us across the thousand or so miles that lay between us. Nancy and I continue to pursue opportunities to work together, including studio time on Skype! Nancy created a deeply moving piece for the Sketchbook Project 2012. Do check it out.
Randi Parkhurst is an artist whose work simply takes my breath away. This US artists describes herself as “a paper geek that LOVES to make artists’ books that move, flip, spring open and surprise.” The sheer cleverness and vision embodied in Randi’s works thrill me on every level. I love her exuberant use of colour, and the interlocking, interdependent, hidden treasures in her pieces thrill with delight and mystery. Randi’s piece “Patience” can be viewed on video – it simply cannot be fully appreciated any other way.
An artist whose works intrigue and please me is Michele Riesenmey. She creates soft, appealing artists books filled with intriguing imagery and illustration, but Michele also makes ‘books’ in the form of curio boxes that just shout to me. Michele is a multi-disciplinary artists from the Loire region of France whose work explores memory, time, matter and the relationship between the infinitely small and the very large. The content of Michele’s works intrigue and draw me to study their detail repeatedly. There is a cabinet of curiosities appeal to them that I never tire of. Michele doesn’t seem to have a website, but her work can be viewed on her Facebook page.
My most recent love affair is with the work of Elizabeth Beronich Sheets. It is difficult to find out much information about this artist, other than that she lives in either Seattle, WA or San Diego, CA, and has been an illustrator all her professional life. Elizabeth sprung up on my Facebook quite recently, and I can’t imagine how her work didn’t come to my attention before. I have voraciously consumed everything that has been posted about her other-wordly work. There is something rather “Mad Max” about Elizabeth’s works, as though they have been excavated from another time or even another place. They have a richness of aging appearance and an unusual and very individual form, filled with a beauty of illustration. Jules Verne may have envisaged such a book . . .She has a Facebook page and an Etsy store. Check it out!
There are so many more artists out there who are doing the most amazing, inspiring work. I hope these introductions will lead you to discover even more, and keep on looking . . .