Visual artists have long been fascinated by books, often as a way to distribute reproductions of original works. This exhibition is not about reproductions, but about books that themselves are one-of-a-kind works of art, designed to be held in the hands and leafed through in a narrative sequence.
Statement: Words and pictures are the best combination for books. Who doesn’t love a good story, especially if it’s about something so personal as a name? Or even better: a little dog. As a multi-media artist, the story dictates the medium used to tell it, whether that be pencil, linocut prints, cloth pop-ups, or wood. Anything can be used to make a book.
Bio: Melissa Mary Bloom (formerly O’Grady) is one of the founding members of Art Books Cleveland. Books have played a huge part in her life, from carrying around the small hardbound Winnie-the-Pooh series when she was very young to working in several bookstores to finally becoming a professional librarian. Melissa loves books as objects just a titch more than as containers of stories and information.
Statement: Art and imagination have been central to my life since I was a child. I was born in Brookyn, New York and came to Cleveland for a Masters in Social Work but never lost the passion for creativity. In the 70s I exhibited textiles, collages and assemblages and then my life took a different path when I co-founded Creativity for Kids and spent the next 45 years building the company into an internationally recognized brand. More recently I rediscovered the joy of exploring, experimenting and doing art as well as the challenge of learning new techniques and crafts. In addition to altered books, I love to do free-form embroidery and textiles and am learning to draw with the Friday Drawing Group.
Bio: Art and imagination have been central to my life since I was a child. I was born in Brookyn, New York and came to Cleveland for a Masters in Social Work but never lost the passion for creativity. In the 70s I exhibited textiles, collages and assemblages and then my life took a different path when I co-founded Creativity for Kids and spent the next 45 years building the company into an internationally recognized brand. More recently I rediscovered the joy of exploring, experimenting and doing art as well as the challenge of learning new techniques and crafts. In addition to altered books, I love to do free-form embroidery and textiles and am learning to draw with the Friday Drawing Group.
Statement: Velleity comes out of my daily practice of both walking in and photographing unfamiliar places, such as in the streets of small towns and cities. There is a repetition of motifs throughout the work, visualizing the contradiction between the old memories and my current reality. This practice reminds me of my early experiences living in the United States. Whenever I had days off from work, I would walk around the Chinatown area, looking at the street lamps, mailboxes, old confusing posters, etc. The practice of photographing and thinking are referenced in the concept of boredom as a function of attention, described in Susan Sontag’s book As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks, 1964–1980. Sontag points out that “most of the interesting art of our time is boring.” Finding something interesting and enjoying the playfulness in its boredom is my process of shooting.
Bio: Born and raised in Guangdong, China, Yiyun Chen is a photographer, artist, and educator currently based in Cleveland, Ohio. In 2015 he received his Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art from Cleveland State University and was invited into the Post Bac program at Cleveland Institute of Art where he continued studies in photography and video. In 2018 Yiyun earned his MFA in photography and related media from Rochester Institute of Technology where he was also recipient of the Theodore Chapman and William A. Reedy Endowment Scholarship in support of graduate studies. Yiyun is known for portraits and artist books, as well as his poetic images of immigrants. Since 2012 Yiyun has actively participated national and international exhibitions and awards for his work – Wausau MOCA, Colorado Photographic Arts Center in Denver, William Harris Gallery and Gallery R in Rochester, PH21gallery in Hungary, and Loosen Art Gallery in Italy. Etc.
Statement: As you recall, 2020 was the beginning of a pandemic. People stayed home more. I guess they paid more attention to their stuff. I guess I did. I took pictures of groupings of objects. In retrospect, taking a two-year pandemic into consideration, the images may seem macabre. I guess that’s me. Is it a story? Maybe. It is scenes around my house.
Bio: Her career was in graphic design, her college major in weaving. The discovery of book arts was a revelation. Edberg’s works are notable for their craftsmanship. She loves color and geometry.
Statement: I am equally interested in materials, structure and content when constructing a book. Some are more story driven, some are more visually driven. I often use discarded books as a basis for my work, and sometimes construct new work from scratch.
Bio: Gene has studied art (BA & MFA degrees) and taught art (preschool, school age, university, seniors). She experiments in drawing, photography, painting, murals, sculpture, printmaking and, in recent years, book art. Gene has earned her living as a house cleaner, artist’s model, teacher, display designer, museum educator, muralist, graphic designer, illustrator, jazz bassist, bookbinder and paper restorer. Her art has been featured in national and international publications and can be found in public and private collections in the US, China, Japan, Finland, Italy, Canada, Argentina and Costa Rica. Her work has been exhibited in galleries and museums in Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, and California. It is also true that Gene Epstein likes to make lists.
Statement: I start books by writing the text and make images to complement and expand upon it. My books were initially written for my own children as they were learning to read. In time they began to address other audiences. My interest in handmade books was in having complete control over the process, and physical contact with the product. The results of labor and physical interaction with materials are important to me. I use wood grain as a graphic element, choosing patterns of grain to fit the occasion. I print primarily on Vandercook flat bed proofing presses, primarily at the Morgan Conservatory and Zygote Press, both in Cleveland. While books are no longer the most efficient way to spread information, they create the possibility of shared experience, and as handmade objects artist books add to that shared experience the idea of direct contact with the artist.
Bio: Michael Gill began making books as a way to give stories to his children. He prints in the letterpress studios at the Morgan Conservatory and at Zygote Press. He has exhibited in solo shows at William Busta Gallery, BAYarts Sullivan Gallery, Massillon Museum, and Tregoning & Co. and internationally at the Alte Feuerwasche Loschwitz Gallery during a residency at the Grafikwerkstatt in Dresden, Germany. He has also exhibited in multiple group shows, including The Printed Page (Denver, CO). His books are held in the Cleveland Public Library Special Collections, as well as in artist book collections of Baylor University, Columbus College of Art and Design, Otis College of Art and Design, the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, Graffikwerkstatt Dresden (Germany) and Ediciones Vigia (Matanzas, Cuba), and in private collectons in Germany, France, and the United Kingdom.
Statement: Capitalizing on the ethereal qualities of handmade milkweed paper, these books weave the seemingly ephemeral, mystical sheets into objects that can be opened to catch the light and release its spirit.
Biography: Although Jeanetta Ho is a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art with a BFA degree in Sculpture, her training and the influences on her work are myriad and worldwide, involving travel to Europe, South America, Asia and parts of Polynesia, as well as interning at both the Cleveland Museum of Art (textiles) and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History (cultural anthropology). She often uses local botanical materials in her work, many of which were grown in her yard.
Statement: As someone who has spent her working life as an art therapist, encouraging all kinds of people to make art, I have a fundamental belief in the vitality and integrity of each person’s creative process. Over a forty-five year career using art in a healing capacity I have seen many times how giving form and structure to emotions and sensation can provide support, equilibrium, and joy. In my own work, art making has served the same purpose that it has for students and clients: finding clarity amidst distortion, seeking balance amidst upheaval, finding celebration when a difficult composition finally comes together. Using collage, acrylics, and oil pastels, I have worked on large figurative canvases and small layered abstracts. I am relatively new to making altered books; the physicality of shaping and constructing an object small enough to hold in one’s hand is satisfying in its directness and its intimacy.
Bio: Amy Jacobs is a Counseling and Art Therapy Professor Emerita at Ursuline College where she helped create the art therapy program 35 years ago. She has exhibited her paintings in galleries in Cleveland, throughout the US and Canada. She is new to altered book making but loves the intimacy of transforming books into miniature works of art through paint and collage. Amy lives in Cleveland Heights.
Karen Koykka O’Neal
Statement: I make handmade paper. I enjoy the process of transforming plant material that I have gathered, chopped, cooked and beaten into paper. It is like alchemy! The possibilities for its use are wide ranging. They can be unexpected and surprising. Paper can be an essential carrier of ideas, history and communication. It can become a support for art works, or a work of art itself. It can become trash. Sheets of paper, with a few folds, a few stitches, can become a “book”. Its endless versatility is endlessly interesting. I like to be open to paper’s possibilities. This ancient yet contemporary craft informs me that we will never truly become a “Paperless Society” — until we are completely out of ideas.
Bio: I was born and raised in Cleveland Heights, I graduated from Heights High and left to attend the University of Michigan. Though I graduated with a degree in civil engineering, I’ve always had an interest in art making, taking classes at the Cleveland Institute of Art growing up, and an art studio or two while a student at Michigan. Paper came into my life when I took a hand papermaking class at the U of M. I was hooked! I sought more instruction, at Haystack, Penland, Arrowmont and other venues, to increase my skills. I became interested in the history of paper. I began teaching classes in hand papermakng (2000 year old technology) as well as making papyrus (4000 year old craft). In 2001 I opened the Out of Hand Papermaking Studio, which offers instruction and workspace.
Statement: I am a calligrapher and book artist. The two seem to go hand-in-hand. The hand made book allows me to combine my love of lettering and sculptural forms in the book format. Paper is so versatile and the current variety of book forms and binding techniques encourages me to experiment with media, form and content. I am especially drawn to the drum leaf binding, accordion fold structure and flag binding. The book I have included here is an accordion fold structure. I am partial to this structure because of its flexibility. An accordion fold or concertina fold can be folded flat and stored in a box or on a shelf or it can be opened to it full length and displayed on a wall or shelf.
Bio: I taught art history for many years and worked as an art educator and arts administrator while also pursuing my interest in lettering and book arts. The various processes of binding and production allowed me to teach and raise a family although there never seemed to be enough time to devote solely to the book arts. My books have been exhibited at the Cleveland Museum of Art, Morgan Paper Conservatory, Brecksville Art Center, Tri-C West, Zygote Press and Kalamazoo Center for Book Arts, Notre Dame College and Beachwood Community Art Center. I am especially drawn to imagery with art historical references as well as themes of hope, beauty and regard for the earth.
Statement: I make broadsides and artist books with handset type. The text is almost always my own. Because setting type by hand is such a slow process, I like images that emerge spontaneously. I like processes like monoprinting and pressure printing where I am not in complete command of the outcome. I like the surprises that happen when one image is layered over another. Some pieces come from playing with words, something that seems to resonate with the weight and solidity of lead and wood type. Other pieces are about specific times and locations: an unplowed prairie remnant at the height of summer, my twoblock long street in Cleveland Heights, hard hit by foreclosures, or the surprising decisions made during one season by some of the native plants growing in the backyard. These pieces explore what gives a place meaning and resonance.
Bio: Wendy Partridge is a letterpress printer, book artist, and paintings conservator. She has a graduate degree in art conservation from the Conservation Center, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University and works as a paintings conservator at the Intermuseum Conservation Association. She studied letterpress printing with Peter Koch for three years at his letterpress studio in Berkeley and at the Press in Tuscany Alley in San Francisco. She is a resident artist at Zygote Press where she helped establish the letterpress studio. She teaches several workshops each year on letterpress printing. In 2012 she was awarded an artist residency through Zygote and the Ohio Arts Council to spend five weeks at the Grafikwerkstatt in Dresden, Germany
Statement: Within my paintings and artist books, the more the young girl is brutalized, the more ‘perfectly’ feminine she becomes. We feel emotions deep inside our guts and hearts, this is where seduction and repulsion live. And we feel within our own selves through an intricacy of physical sensations; sex and pain as a vehicle for alchemical self fashioning On a primary level, the works serve as an honest emotional disclosure, and on a larger scale, serve as an unraveling of gender roles and social structure to shed cultural passivity surrounding the realm of woman as sexual body. While diaristic, the works are generative of universal experiences; intimacy and being emotionally flayed open. Paper and books urge to be touched, the book as an art object that can only be viewed when opened up.
Bio: Zoe Taylor is a painter and book artist living in Cleveland Ohio, currently a junior studying painting at The Cleveland Institute of Art. Taylor has shown in the Denver Art Society, the Arvada Center for Arts & Humanities, and group exhibitions in Waterloo Arts District in Cleveland. Her work centers around shedding cultural passivity surrounding, and unraveling woman as sexual body.
Statement: Emanuel Wallace (b. 1981, Cleveland, United States) is a photographer who lives and works in Cleveland. He works in this medium because photography allows him to capture moments in time that may have otherwise been forgotten and unappreciated. He is inspired by photographers Jamel Shabazz and Gordon Parks because their work speaks to the intricacies of daily life and the showcases the beauty in what could easily be mistaken for being mundane and uninteresting.
Bio: Emanuel Wallace is a photographer and journalist from Cleveland, Ohio. He has been the staff photographer for Cleveland Scene magazine since 2014. In the past, he has contributed to Cleveland.com, Destination Cleveland and the Call & Post, among other outlets. In his spare time, Emanuel likes to experiment with making various cocktails and brewing his own beer.