Children’s Museum of the Arts (CMA) is pleased to announce A Way With Words: The Power and Art of the Book, an exhibition that presents artworks which draw attention to the long and remarkable history of the book, on view from November 29, 2018 to April 29, 2019.
The invention of the printing press in the 1440s launched the book into the industrial age, increasing the production and distribution of the written word, and with it, knowledge and literacy. Today, our libraries are filled with millions of books, and the digital age allows us to access literature instantly in the palm of our hand. Because the book has been produced around the globe, it has become a versatile and creative source of artistic inspiration.
Including works by Cara Barer, Doug Beube, Long-Bin Chen, Casey Curran, Brian Dettmer, Ann Hamilton, Andrew Hayes, Lisa Kokin, Guy Laramée, Mike Stilkey, and Robert The, Way With Words will show the transformation of everyday books into expressions of identity, community, environmentalism, memory, and reconstructed narratives. Families will see unconventional treatments such as cutting, weaving, tearing, burning, and shredding, as artists transform books into sculptures, animation, drawings, and paintings that capture the book’s significant history and power to inform the public. Children and their families will also create their own artworks inspired by the exhibition.
Cara Barer transforms books into art through processes of sculpting, dyeing, and photographing. Embracing chance and experimentation, Barer documents, records, and raises questions about the fragile and ephemeral nature of books and their future.
Doug Beube trained as a filmmaker and photographer before shifting to another narrative form in the late 1970s: books. Focusing on novels, reference volumes, atlases, and art monographs, he shreds and deconstructs them and reassembles the pieces into multi-media works.
Long-Bin Chen has been using recycled books and magazines to make large-scale sculptures for over 20 years. Long-Bin gives books a new life by taking on the creation of portraits by stacking thousands and thousands of pages.
Casey Curran creates sculptures that come alive with a turn of a handle and the structure of a book. Intricately designed but relying on basic rules of mechanics, his works invite the viewer to directly engage with art.
Brian Dettmer works with books as a sculptural material and cultural object. Dettmer redefines and reconsiders books in a new context in order to explore connections we have to objects and information of the past. The book is explored as a vessel, both to contain and distribute knowledge and nourishment. The book is also represented as a craft that can carry and transport new ideas and bodies of information to a different place.
Ann Hamilton is a visual artist internationally recognized for the sensory surrounds of her large-scale multi-media installations. Using time as process and material, her methods of making serve as an invocation of place, of collective voice, of communities past and of labor present. In book block, an ongoing project, Hamilton uses paperback book slices, wood and bookbinders glue to create her assemblage of book sculptures.
Andrew Hayes works with book paper and steel. Even though the book is considered an object of education, growth and escape, Hayes unbinds the pages of the book so the blocks of text lose their original meaning, subsequently reshaping the paper to give it new meaning. The resulting creation is no longer a book on a shelf, but a unique object with its own strength and story.
Lisa Kokin creates her art with recycled and reclaimed materials found at flea markets, thrift stores, and recycling centers. She has previously worked with buttons, photographs, and other found objects. Currently, she works mostly with books, the contents of which she shreds, blends, pulps, glues, and otherwise modifies before presenting them to her viewers in various states of recognition.
Guy Laramée is an interdisciplinary artist based in Montreal whose recent works employ books as a sculptural medium. Laramée carves detailed environments into bound book pages, forming dramatic and detailed representations of natural landscapes.
Los Angeles native Mike Stilkey has always been attracted to painting and drawing, not only on vintage paper, record covers, and book pages, but on the books themselves. Using a mix of ink, colored pencil, paint, and lacquer, Stilkey depicts a melancholic and, at times, whimsical cast of characters inhabiting ambiguous spaces and narratives of fantasy.
Robert The brings books from dumpsters and thrift stores that are lovingly vandalized back to life so they can be reinserted back into the culture which turned them into debris.