"Down the Spine" Exhibit Showcases the Art and Craft of the Book
March 13, 2012
The exhibit " DOWN THE SPINE: The Art and Craft of the Book in Central
Illinois" opened at the Contemporary Art Center, in Peoria Illinois, and
runs from March 10th through April 6th. It features work by several Bradley
faculty, alumni and graduate students.
Curated by Robert Rowe, Professor of Art at Bradley University, "Down the
Spine" takes an expansive view of the art and craft of the book as it
showcases new and traditional approaches to a cherished and enduring art
Artist represented in the exhibit are:
Works range from traditional fine leather binding to experimental sculptural
pieces that incorporate text and symbols. One one side of the gallery is a
gossamer installation of hanging paper sheets by Meda and Veda Rives; to the
other extreme is a finely-engineered 6-foot rotating machined metal piece
that rotates in multiple dimension, replete with symbols and figures telling
a life story. In all of the instances in this show, there are elements
traceable to the history of the book as it has come down to us.
Books are about bonds that connect people. In 2010, a group of Peoria
artists and designers met at the Prairie Center of the Arts in Peoria and
formed a book and print collaborative. The group immediately embarked
upon the collaborative endeavor that is in the exhibit, titled The
Frankenstein Coffer - each member contributing to the whole. The group holds
weekly open studio sessions and has offered instructional classes in
bookbinding and letterpress printing.
The nature of books evokes sanctuary and protection of things that have
value. In a time when so much is designed for immediate consumption and
obsolescence, books evoke a sense of reverence for experience. The works
here tell stories, stories that span a lifetime or just a sunny afternoon.
The stories are in the words and images, but also in the very material
itself, such the book done in conjunction with the the Combat Paper project,
that works with returning war veterans, using material from their uniforms
to make paper and print their stories.
The recent surge in interest in book arts has fueled the expansion of
collaborative groups in many communities and through this exhibition we are
reaching out to connect with the artists and makers of books along the
Interstate 74 corridor across the state. The real glue and thread that binds
this show is the common desire of those who share their love of making and
experiencing books, who teach and attend workshops, and preserve and advance
the art of the book for all of us.
A full set of images of works in the show and of the opening may be viewed