Monday, February 18th, 2019

History and creativity in book arts display

Dionne Smith

Posted on September 24, 2018 in Arts & Culture
By USM Free Press

Dionne Smith

By: Elliot Caron, Staff Writer

Book arts offers the opportunity for all students to bring out a unique form of creativity within the art community that can’t be found anywhere else at USM.

USM is celebrating 12 years of their summer book arts program. This program allows artists to explore an art form that few schools offer. Shannon Sockalexis, who is minoring in book arts, enjoys the freedom that the art form offers, giving her a chance to incorporate her animated style into the book art.

The book art pieces take many forms. Some have a written story, some use visual imagery to tell the story. Accordion books are a popular form because the style is versatile giving the artist the ability to add cut-out and pop-up features in order to add a sculptural three-dimensional effect. The accordion books also allow for a multimedia presentation. Other forms include snake, star and single section books. The form used for each piece is chosen to support the content.

The summer book arts program attracts more than just traditional students. K-12 teachers and professional artists often enroll in the summer book arts program. This gives students the opportunity to connect with professionals and occasionally network. The program connects traditional and nontraditional students as well. Paula Shevenell is a non matriculated student who goes to USM specifically for the book arts program. She likes the challenge of the book arts and the focus it brings to her retirement. She’s been exposed to forms of art from other students because of the book arts program.

Rebecca Goodale is the faculty director of the book arts program and has been teaching at USM for 40 years. She studied the art form and brought it to the university. A class she taught with Dennis Gilbert called “The Illuminated Autobiography” lead to the start of the program at the university. The summer book arts program is seven days of workshops with eight instructors. The summer program took place at the Stone House in Freeport for the first two years and was moved to the Kate Cheney Chappell ‘83 Center for Book Arts in 2008. Kate Cheney Chappell took the “The Illuminated Autobiography” class and graduated from USM in 1983 . Chappell donated the money to make the center possible.

The Glickman Library showcases the work of this program on the sixth floor. “The Doors of Amsterdam” by Sue Jennings exposes the beauty of artistic architecture. The photographs featured in the piece show the doors as works of art. Within the book there’s also a written story which adds another layer to the book art piece. “129 Teacups” by Paula Shevenell uses layers of cut out teacups on each page which adds dimension to the piece as well as supporting the concept of the story. Shevenell used the snake technique for this piece and made it very long. Using this technique could help the viewer comprehend the sheer amount of teacups in the story. “The Alphabetical Bestiary of Creatures” by Shannon Sockalexis gives the alphabet a whimsical makeover. Each letter of the alphabet is assigned a fantastical being and then are drawn in vibrant colors. The vibrancy of the piece and the animated illustrations highlight the childlike energy of it. Sockalexis used the accordion form for this piece. Within the book arts Sockalexis works almost exclusively in the accordion form.

There are many other wonderful book art pieces on display in the Glickman Library. The exhibit is free and open to anyone but it’s only up until September 30th.

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