Arts & Culture

Interactive display conveys personal experience through books

‘Art of the Book’ exhibit brings family histories, complex emotions to life through immersive pieces

Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 16, 2016

In a visual arts course called “Art of the Book,” undergraduate students created projects that delved into diverse and personal subject matters. The exhibit showcasing the students’ work takes advantage of the unique qualities of the book as a medium, combining the powers of words, images and three-dimensional forms.

On the second floor of the List Art Center, not too far from the industrial-sized elevator, is a small and unassuming room full of books. It is not a library, but “Art of the Book” — an exhibit put on by students as part of the Visual Arts course by the same name. The exhibit and the class both explore the form of the book as an art medium, using words, images and bindings to convey a message that neither pen nor paint alone could accomplish.

The pieces on display at the group show cover a wide range of topics, emotions and styles. An untitled piece by Kat Chavez ’19 uses muted earth tones to reflect on deceased grandparents’ belief in heaven. Kearney McDonnell’s ’17 “Dad and Therapy” features bold, charcoal letters and abstract images to narrate a portion of a family’s history. The paper-cut, Tim Burton-esque “The Elephant and The Conductor” by Elodie Freymann ’18 regales with its portrayal of her parents’ quirky anniversary gift-giving tradition. Jake Kuhn’s ’17 “Beach House” uses pastel colors and short phrases to capture the essence of his grandmother’s oceanside getaway.

The interactivity of the exhibit — combining the act of reading a book with the act of viewing an art exhibit — allows for a unique and immersive experience.

Devin Graham ’19 is a visual arts concentrator and attended the group show because she has several friends who are in the class. “I would definitely recommend anyone to go check it out,” she said before adding, “Just make sure you have clean hands.”

Tagging along with Graham was Daniel Plaisance ’19. “I don’t know a lot about art,” he said. “But it’s pretty clear that the students are really talented.” Plaisance appreciated the interactive component of the exhibit and was particularly fond of Ryan Miller’s ’19 panoramic “Berlin Composite.”

The show, which runs until Thursday, was put together by the course’s instructor, Adjunct Instructor in Visual Art Lara Henderson, who could not be reached for comment.