Tag Archives: Sandy Hook

Book Power Redux at 23 Sandy Gallery in Portland

Book Power Redux copyright 23 Sandy Gallery

We had the pleasure of traveling to Portland last weekend for the opening of Book Power Redux at 23 Sandy Gallery. I’ve known Laura Russell, owner of 23 Sandy, since the beginning of my career as a book artist but had never had the opportunity, until now, to see the gallery. It is a lovely, light and airy space with a lot of good display opportunities and, of course, you get to chat with Laura, which is always educational.

I’ll tell you about the book show in a moment, but first I have to share a dining tip from Laura – The Screen Door restaurant.  Laura was not exaggerating when she said they have “fried chicken so good it will make you cry.” Greg thought it was more than worth the hour wait and I guarantee that this will be a “must go” every time we are in Portland.

Speaking of Portland, we fell in love with it. I have several blog posts worth of art info to share with you but today I’ll start with the show:

Book Power Redux is an interesting and disconcerting combination of beautifully made artists books carrying difficult messages.  It is one of the strongest shows I’ve seen in a while both in terms of content and artistry.  I am honored to have two of my pieces, Sandy Hook and Assume the Position, included.

Laura has put together a full color catalog of the show and I encourage you to purchase and peruse it. At $25 it is far cheaper than a trip to Portland and well worth the artists’ statements and photographs. You can also purchase the individual works directly from the 23 Sandy Gallery website which is pretty darned slick!

Many of the works stood out for us (I went with my husband, Greg, and our dear friend, Steve, a photographer who lives in Seattle).  I encourage you to wander through the website and experience each book. Here is a quick link to be able to access all of the books easily. Here are a few to get you started (Sorry there are no photos here, please click-through to see the imagery):

my not so ordinary life by Christine Wagner is  delicate, elegant and painful to read. This artists’ book describes her experience with domestic violence and left me appreciating her willingness to share such a difficult story, her juxtaposition of delicate and pretty materials with brutal language, and with the sense that I am tremendously fortunate to not be able to relate directly.

Like most of the work created originally for the Al Mutanabbi project, Sunt Lacrimae Rerum by Amaranth Borsuk is powerful and moving. Her use of laser-cut text, that tears away each time the book is opened, is simple and just so.

Ten Little White Folk by Shawna Hanel had only one downside. It is a unique work and was already sold by the time the show opened. Greg and I would like to have this witty and well-done book in our collection.

Why You Can’t Get Married by Nava Atlas uses the format of a wedding album to “demonstrate how the very arguments used to oppose interracial marriage in generations past have been recycled for use against same-sex marriage.” While Greg and I can relate to this personally, as our marriage would have once been illegal, it is also the artist’s choices of imagery, text and format that really spoke to us.

Did you see the show either in person or online? Please feel free to post your recommendations in the comments.







Can Art Make a Difference? New Book Release: Sandy Hook

sandy hook photos (2 of 3)

Often when I read about an event in the news I feel compelled to do something about it – make a donation, follow the details, make art about it. At the same time I feel frustrated that my efforts seem so small in comparison to the magnitude of the event.  When the shootings occurred last December at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Connecticut I was horrified and heart-broken. I woke up worried about my beloved nieces and nephews as they went off to their schools every day. I thought endlessly about the families in Newtown who lost their children and those who gratefully held theirs extra tightly.

I’ve been to only one child’s funeral and looking at that small light blue casket was one of those moments when you think that such a thing should never be required. No one should make child-sized caskets and no parent should ever have to stand near one. Carter Pei didn’t quite make it to kindergarten. He isn’t still in this world, but I assure you that every person who met him still carries him in their heart. I often think of him and the joy he brought.

After Sandy Hook I imagined twenty families mourning their children. The parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, family friends – it’s really quite a never-ending ripple of people whose lives changed forever. And then I thought of the six teachers and staff members who gave their lives trying to protect “their” kids. I remember the teachers at my school and their protective mother lion instincts when it came to the children in their care.

And so I am thinking of it now as I tell you about a new book, Sandy Hook, which memorializes the twenty children and six staff members killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14th, 2012. A combination of the desire to do something (all profits will be donated) and a frustration with our short social memory and the way that important events fade quickly led me to create this book.

Sandy Hook for Documentation (1 of 3)

In thinking how to represent the children and school staff who were killed, I settled on the idea of using teddy bears for the children and apples for the adults. After spending several days purchasing individual bears and apples, I began taking the school portraits. It got harder and harder as I worked on the book, and taking the group photo left me in tears. I couldn’t help but think of all the group photos those children will never be in: graduations, weddings and countless family portraits.

Sandy Hook for Documentation (3 of 3)

When I first started showing the completed book I was surprised at the reaction – people were angry. When I explained that all profits would be donated to the United Way fund for Newtown, people exclaimed “that they don’t need money!” But yes, they do. I know from my years of working with families that they will need money. Money for expenses, for counseling, lots and lots of counseling, and to rebuild their lives. But I thought about it and put the book away for a while.

I’m ready to release it now. I hope that it will be received in the spirit with which it is intended. It is a memorial. An attempt to make sure we don’t forget those children and adults and their families in the same way that we seem apt to do. It is also a fundraiser. I’m donating my time and materials. Sales of the books will go to the United Way fund. I’ll update you in December with how much I’ve been able to send so far.

Have you made art in response to an event in the news? Share it with us in the comments.