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“Not By The Book” is the first exhibit of Flinn Gallery’s 2021 - 2022 season with an opening reception on September 23 from 6 - 8 pm.
Four artists all rely on different aspects of the physical structure of books as the basis of their artistic endeavors. Pages, covers, bindings and selected contents contribute to the different artists’ expressions in the way words supplied the narratives of the original authors.
“Not By The Book” is certainly an unexpected title for an art show housed in a library’s gallery. This unusual exhibit at the Flinn Gallery at the Greenwich Library’s ninety-second season features the works of four artists who use books themselves rather than the words written within to express their creative ideas.
Shiela Hale builds with books taking her inspiration from nature. Chris Perry regards books as sculptural objects, Andrew Sovjani expands the boundaries of books’ content or physical nature using photography and, engineering to create works that stretch nature’s boundaries, and Erin Walrath transforms recycled books to alter the original print messages into visually expansive new contexts.
Pages, covers, bindings and selected contents contribute to the different artists’ expressions in the way words supplied the narratives of the original authors.
Curators for the exhibit are Leslee Asch and Kira Albinsky and runs from September 23 – December 8, 2021.
While books are a unifying theme of both the library and the “Not By The Book” exhibition at the Flinn Gallery, the contributing artists stretch our imaginations by asking us to look at books in entirely new ways. Expanding our horizons has always been a function of art and this exhibit is no exception.
Renaissance author Francis Bacon wrote, “Some books are to be tasted, others are to be swallowed, some few are to be chewed and digested.” The four artists featured in “Not By The Book” offer viewers new options of experiencing books and their component parts with visual delight.
Shiela Hale has converted her Katonah home into an expansive studio that houses her beloved books and provides an amazing creative space for her work. “I’ve loved books since I was a child—I read them, I alter them, I build with them.” And build with them she does. The “cathedral tables” she has constructed to display various works are attractions in themselves. Hale studied at Syracuse, Pace and Sarah Lawrence but attributes much of her artistic evolution to self-discovery. Her artwork is inspired by nature and what’s around her. One of her “nest” pieces involves finely shredded pages adorned with feathers and an egg, reminding the viewer that nature itself is beyond words. “My art usually comes from peacefulness,” but “frustration about the misuse of language to manipulate and deceive” has also motivated her. Shiela Hale asserts, “Concerns about language and the environment have only increased. Urgency is the engine that drives the work.”
Ridgefield’s Chris Perry spent years in Brooklyn doing architectural woodworking before earning his designation as a “book artist”, a label he considers as broad as that of sculptor. He began his career as an intern at the Guggenheim after studying at the universities of Maryland and Saskatchewan and the Corcoran Museum. He created book pages to illustrate prior works and became intrigued by the enormous possibilities presented by the component parts of books themselves. Their utility as sculptural objects increases once the tomes are altered and relieved of their “duty to inform.” His art and his imagination are both expansive and combine with a fascination with water to produce increasingly ambitious art pieces both on pedestals and attached to walls. Rule breaking is part of his approach and his works illustrate the tension between chaos and control.
In Conway, Massachusetts Andrew Sovjani has earned recognition for his book related artwork which blurs the boundaries between photography, printmaking and painting. Born into a family of working studio artists, Andrew followed a circuitous route to develop his own style. A graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, he pursued a career in business management that included Asian sojourns. Yet his lineage and his fascination with the physicality of books as building blocks led him in a new direction where he combines engineering and art. In one series he creates impossible geometrics in the darkroom with chemicals and a calligraphy brush. In another series the works appear to defy gravity and negate physics yet express a sense of calm and harmony that appear at the same time both compelling and restful. The subtle alternation of light and shadow in his white works leave the viewer with a sense of wonderment.
Erin Walrath gives new meaning to the idea of not judging a book by its cover. Her collages and assemblages develop from her selection of book covers that she “deconstructs and reassembles as a form of colorful book art. A resident of Roxbury, CT, Erin graduated from R.I.S.D., spent a year studying in Rome and returned to CT where she earned an M.F.A. and now teaches at Western CT. Recycled books have become her medium of choice. “The information these old books contain is literally undergoing a transformation, much of it disappearing into thin air--taking its place in cyberspace…an evolution from heaviness and absolutes to ideas that are more fluid and accessible. “Walrath believes the color and patina of the castaway books have a richness that cannot be mimicked and deserves to be distilled and preserved. The resulting works “create a new context whose visual elements, free from the burden of words, convey a new meaning.”
The show will open with a reception from 6-8 P.M. September 23 in the Flinn Gallery at the Greenwich Library. Sponsored by The Friends of the Greenwich Library, 101 West Putnam Avenue. The exhibit will run until December 8. Please check the website for gallery hours: https://flinngallery.com
This event is free of charge.
101 West Putnam Avenue
Greenwich, CT 06830
Free: Greenwich Library
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