Kay: Altered Books, Altered State of Mind

Most of us who come to this site are readers. We get a lot from books, starting with pleasure and comfort and ranging to education and creative stimulation.

I recently went with an artist friend to a juried exhibit of altered books. The artists had taken books as a starting point and cut them apart! Glued them down! Stitched them up! They created a whole different set of artistic variables with the texts and covers to view the book elements in new ways, and I think, to investigate reading and the value of books.

I loved some of the pieces. One of my favorites was a wholly new creation—a wooden, hinged “book cover” encasing pages showing a series of graphics all done in the same color scheme, of a figure leaping a mountain in joy. There was a tree made with the fanned, sculpted pages of a book. Also a giant bug made of sculpted book pages with human legs. There was a rather unimaginative (in my view) framed sequence of Harlequin covers, one from each decade. There was a way-too-large stack of annotated titles, an homage to banned books, and another about piece about resistance that had thorned rods running through the pages. There were one or two pieces that I thought were a waste of a perfectly good book.

(I apologize for the quality of these images: they’re enlarged screen grabs from YouTube, because I forgot my camera.)

It was fun to see the exhibit with an artist and to get her take on the objects. And it was fun for me to see how an artist had interpreted, and altered, books like Mother Goose and Naked Lunch. (Here’s a link to a one-minute video showcasing the exhibit.)

Did it stimulate my thinking? Absolutely. Did it stimulate my creativity? Well, better ask me later, when I get that WIP finished.

What about you? Have you guys seen any exhibits lately that made you think about your writing life?

2 thoughts on “Kay: Altered Books, Altered State of Mind

  1. Thanks for the link! That was fascinating!

    Everything makes me think about my writing life (which should tell you how boring a companion I am).

    A couple of weeks ago I attended an exhibit at the Dayton Art Institute that featured works by American artists. Almost all of them also had a portrait or a self-portrait of the artist juxtaposed beside a work of theirs. It was interesting seeing what the artists looked like, but it didn’t actually add anything to my appreciation of their work, I don’t think.

    • Ha! I know what you mean about being a boring companion. Every time someone asks me how I’m doing, I start talking about character development.

      The art exhibit sounds interesting. This must be the season for arts organizations to renew; I’ve been getting a stack of membership offers in the mail. I’m tempted by them all. It’s good for us, right?

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