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Re: [BKARTS] Book Arts Article



Joan - I haven't seen the article, but most of my books are without words, at
least words as text. I create books using painted paper much of the time,
sometimes beginning with paper already cut to the size of the signatures, but
often dividing a larger sheet after it has been painted. Once the pages are
arranged in a way that pleases me, I begin to manipulate them further by tearing,
cutting, weaving, sewing, repainting and otherwise altering them before sewing
them into a binding (usually also a painted paper cover and spine). Sequencing
the pages is, for me, what makes them "speak," and even though there is no
continuous text (though there are often words or phrases), I have no doubt they
have something to say.

Our culture is imbedded in words and literature, sometimes to the exclusion
of the power of images, despite these being a primary means of communication on
a visceral level for as long as there have been human beings making things
and trying to communicate. All language is essentially symbolic, and a symbolic
language is a symbolic language, regardless of whether it is created out of
letters or images. The primary difference is, I think, that some time ago we
agreed on what letters would stand for, while our understanding of visual simbols
that are not letters or words is more remote in time. Because visual art has,
for such a long time, been the poor stepsister in our schools and our
culture, the critical attention that is required to decode and reveal its symbols has
become an esoteric pursuit that rarely permeates the larger culture in any
significant way. Art viewers are, I think, insecure about their responses to art
and afraid of appearing ignorant. As an artist selling my work directly to
collectors, I spend a lot of time listening to, responding to, and reassuring
people that a) they are feeling something, b) they are supposed to be feeling
something, and c) whatever it is they are feeling in response to my work is
okay. It's a great way to create dialogue.

Oops, I'll get off my soapbox now. Clearly, I feel rather passionately about
this. I would be happy to have any responses from the group. Barbara Harman

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