The most recent meeting of the Book Arts Guild of Vermont took place at the University of Vermont. We had a dual purpose for the visit – our annual trip to Special Collections and the viewing of the New England Guild of Book Workers‘ exhibit Geographies.
I really enjoyed the NEGBW exhibit. Here’s how the curators summed it up:
With the only restraint that the work must relate to the theme of New England or the individual New England states, the 26 exhibitors were free to explore and express their creativity in a finished product of their choice, ranging from fine leather bindings to artist books and calligraphic productions.
Stephanie Wolff (NEGBW Exhibitions Coordinator) and Deborah Howe came up from Dartmouth to show us the pieces up close. They removed several books from the glass cases and gave us background on the work or the creator of the pieces. It makes such a difference to see work out of the display.
My favorite piece was Stones by Vermont artist Susan Bonthron. The work is based on a poem that Susan wrote about her daily walk up the hill behind her house. In addition to the illustrated book, there’s a stone wall landscape (with a wire-edge binding) that opens up to surround the piece when on display. The stones in the wall were collaged from an assortment of assorted paste and marbled papers.
A design binding by Patty Bruce also caught my eye. I loved the variety of patterns and textures used. Here’s what she had to say about her piece:
Life along the river’s edge is conjured up by this interpretation of the river painted on fabric using this primitive style, the symbolism of grass rooted in textured leather representing the river embankment and combined with a variegated leather that creates imagery of the horizon during a seasonal snowy mix.
The design binding of Little Women by Elizabeth Curran was insane (in a good way). The Orchard House is embroidered on the cover with amazing attention to detail.
Plant Corridors by Nancy Leavitt had an interesting focus – the evolution of plant life as it spreads via hitching rides with vehicles. In particular, Nancy’s book looked at vegetation along the Maine Interstate-95 corridor.
The miniature books by Todd Pattison, My Maine, had lovely textures. I just wanted to pop them in my mouth.
The five books are Maine products, as the text blocks are comprised of paper made by Katie MacGregor and the covering materials were all gathered from our land in Maine. The books combine the two things that make Maine special to me, the beauty of the natural environment and the wonderful people.
I think it would be fun to create a Vermont series of books in response to Todd’s work.
Grahem Patten’s book Call Me Trimtab is a fantastic sculptural piece and watching it being opened was fascinating. The way the book panels balance with the tension of the linen thread is mind boggling. The piece was inspired by R. Buckminster Fuller, an architect and inventor who grew up in New England.
There are many more pieces that are equally wonderful and I highly recommend checking out the exhibit if you can. You can read a post about the exhibit on the New England Guild of Book Workers blog – it lists upcoming exhibition dates throughout New England. You can also download the exhibition catalog for your reading pleasure.
The exhibit will be at the Bailey/Howe Library at the University of Vermont, Burlington, VT through December 12, 2014.