As I worked on this book about the cycles of cleaning my house I was also working on several other books. The somewhat “mindless” act of cleaning gave my mind time to think about this and other books that I wanted to create. Other thoughts crept in, too. I had a period while working on this project where I was very reluctant to work on it. After examining why I was so reluctant, I realized that it had a lot to do with the household and time period in which I was raised. I grew up in a traditional Italian American household where my 4 sisters and I were taught that after we finished college, our place was taking care of our husbands, children and homes. My mom was a stay-at-home mom. My father would not allow her work. Keeping the house clean was essential because my father would explode if the house was not clean when he arrived home from work. So, publicly exposing my poor housekeeping skills was proving difficult for me. After realizing all of this, I actually enjoyed making clutter cycles. This book was created with before and after digital photos of different areas of my house. There were several areas that were repeated throughout the book because I noticed that soon after I cleaned one of those areas it would be full of clutter again.
The first collaborative project that I worked on was cooperthedog dreaming. It is a book that I wrote with my daughter. The book is about our dog Cooper who is a big part of our family. He sleeps quite a lot in many different places in the house and in many different positions. Even though he can’t say a word, Cooper has a very expressive face. As he slept, we would evaluate his sleeping position and facial expression; run to find the camera and snap a picture; and then imagine situations that he might be dreaming about. Even now, after the project has been completed, we still find ourselves considering what Cooper might be dreaming about. We had a lot of fun with this project and it was another way that my daughter and I could share a common interest. It also gave us the opportunity to share our love of books with others.
Imprints on Leaves
While working on Imprints on Leaves, I took the simple idea of fall leaves and expanded my ideas about the meanings and context of those words. I attempted to manifest in form and content some of the multiple meanings. The book is a swivel bound book, in which the pages (“leaves”) are piled one on top of the other, which mimics the piles of leaves that we rake up each fall. Some of the vignettes that are part of the content talk about raking leaves in the fall. The images in this book are “leaves on leaves”. They are mono-prints of fallen leaves that I collected from my yard. Thinking in this way creates many layers in a project. This book considers relational space not only on a visual level but also on a conceptual level.
The experience of working on Imprints on Leaves led to an idea for another book in sort of an odd way. As I was raking leaves and gathering them for this book, I noticed that once again my next-door neighbor had left a very clear line of fallen leaves where the property line is. It made me start thinking about the lines between people, properties, cities, states and countries. As I worked at raking the leaves, in my head I wrote the poem for the text in the book Imaginary Line. Imaginary Line is a small accordion book with a poem about the imaginary lines that are drawn between all of us. The type is hand rendered in a line along the front and along the back of the accordion book. The book is made of a cotton rag printmaking paper. In both my approach to making this book and the materials that I’ve chosen for the audience to experience this book appeals to the sense of touch. Here again I’m creating a dichotomy between the imaginary line and the physical representation of the line. This was to be a quick little book, and it was, but it was also an important one. I wanted to make sure that the folds and the text coincided and made sense to the reader. I also wanted the text to create a line but not a continuous line, a broken one, which related to the content of the text about an imaginary line that I feel needs to be broken. One with gaps…one that people can move across freely.
It feels like I am constantly running around “putting out fires”. So, I wondered what it would look like for a book to have its pages burned. What kind of experience could I create? That idea was the inspiration for the books Fires Extinguished and Fires Rekindled. The pages in Fires Extinguished were actually set on fire to create the images on the pages. I wanted to create a book that visually told something about how I view my life. I thought that maybe by creating a book about it I might see things in a different way and be able to make changes in my approach to life and work.
The companion book to Fires Extinguished, Fires Rekindled changes the meaning and images of Fires Extinguished. In Fires Rekindled , the images are from Fires Extinguished , however, they have been altered. The images have been digitized and layered creating new images. They tell a different narrative. One in which I have more control over the images and ultimately over how my life unfolds.
The Heart Wants What It Wants
The text in this book is Sonnet 141 by William Shakespeare.
It is a standing sculpture in which the pages are concentric heart shapes that progressively get larger as you progress through the sonnet. The sonnet is about a love that is not based on physical/visible beauty. Around each page is a different border representing visual differences. Creating a tension between the somewhat elaborate physical form of the book and the qualities of the beauty that Shakespeare speaks of, which are not visible or tangible, helped me explore the dichotomy of visible beauty of the form representing physical beauty and the invisible beauty of his words representing inner beauty.
Now I Can...
Abstract of my Thesis
Over the last several years there has been much discussion about how e-books could replace the printed book. My thesis explores my belief that both forms (physical and e-book) can coexist. The physical book can evolve and continue to be relevant as the e-book comes out of its infancy and continues to evolve as its potential is still unknown.
My work investigates and challenges the form and content of physical books. Through experimentation I created unique physical books with the intent that people think will think about them in a different way. I designed, wrote and illustrated several physical books exploring form and considered how the form echoes the content of each book. The results are an opportunity for audiences to experience a physical book on a deeper level. Both “tracts” of making books need to continue to evolve in order for both to maintain relevancy. Physical books will only be replaced by e-books if we allow them to become irrelevant.
The first three chapters of this thesis are divided into three ways that we experience books: sharing, time and our senses. The last chapter discusses how audiences view physical books and e-books, designers becoming a part of the evolution of e-books and what direction I think physical books are headed in the future.