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Re: Book Burning/Book Arts



Charles, et al:

I usually just lurk here, but since you're trying to do a survey/get a 
discussion going...

My own approach is primarily that of a book conservator, concentrating on 
the traditional skills and techniques of bookbinding.  I am also 
fortunate enough to know a little about paper marbling, and allow myself 
to experiment with two-dimensional abstract art using those skills.  I 
hesitate to use the term 'book artist' to describe myself, and always 
have a little bit of trepidation when I encounter artists who decide to 
use a book structure as a vehicle for their expression, since very often 
they do not have a good understanding of the mechanics of what they are 
trying to accomplish.
	This leaves a great deal of grey area, however.  There are a 
wonderful number of highly skilled craftsmen/women who also have 
considerable artistic ability, and they apply their craftsmanship to 
giving form to their vision.  A goodly number of those people subscribe 
to this list, and my hat is figuratively off to them.
	Moving further into the spectrum, there are those artists who do 
not come primarily from the tradition of binding, but who have gained enough 
understanding and mastery of technique that they can execute a given 
piece with deftness.  Again, I have respect for their approach, and their 
willingness to learn the necessary skills.
	Then there are those who are primarily artists, who are trying to 
work within some format of the book structure.  And while their technical 
skills are often limited, one has to admire their willingness to explore 
and create in this way.  

The larger question is 'what is art', and certainly I do not feel 
qualified to address this at all.  Perhaps it is pedestrian of me, but I 
stake out my goals and ambitions, and try to learn this craft, to walk 
this path that started with my friends and mentors at Iowa.  I am 
constantly humbled by how much I do not know, even though I teach aspects 
of the craft to students at the university here.

I look forward to hearing what others have to say, and now I will return 
to my quiet corner of the world...

 James T. Downey / Legacy Bookbindery
 Columbia, Missouri
 jdowney@mail.coin.missouri.edu


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