Sunday, November 11, 2012

Olivia Carter's Senior Book/Print Show at CCA

I walked up the concrete steps inside the Isabel Percy West Gallery last Thursday and encountered hints as I went: a welcome mat, some potted plants. At first I wasn't sure if they had always been there, but when I saw the room laid out before me, I knew they had been placed there by Olivia Carter, the student whose Senior Show I had come to see.

Olivia had taken my bookmaking class at CCA in the spring of 2011, but I hadn't seen much of her work since then, although she did show me some embroidery she was working on. I believe she had taken Nance O'Banion's class, and was currently in Dorothy Yule's Pop-Up Book class. 

This is the way a book show should always look, I thought, like someone's home. (I found out later that all the furniture was either from her parent's or her friends homes, so she had connections to it.) A friendly place to sit down, books and nooks to explore, all mixed with objects that are meaningful to the maker. It made sense. Olivia's work was about home, and about trees as well. Come on in…
Welcome to the show!

More than an exhibit, more than a home.

You are greeted by a small table with
Letterpress printed business cards
in a wooden box with embroidery
and printed postcards.

A tunnel book sits on a peg rack that holds her keys and jacket.

In the kitchen area: a shelf of books and buttons and found objects.

More than a bedroom.
By the bed, a book of pop-up snowflakes.

Near the kitchen, a recipe box book.
She used the alphabet index cards to spell "Falling."
The piece is about climbing trees and what that meant to her.

More than a desk. A sign invites you to sit down
and poke through the objects
and read the books there.
Many Moleskine notebooks.

She even used the space under the stairs. 
More books to read, including
a lovely pop-up book titled Home.

Inside the book. As she is driving home…

On the table was a thick photo flip book 
(not shown)
called Olivia.
Three chairs waited at the table, 
each embroidered with one word:

A pop-up book that becomes more layered
and more intertwined, page by page.
Check out those knife skills!
(She's says she has switched to a #16 X-Acto blade
because it is shorter and she feels that she has
more control over it.)

By having these sections to move through: the entryway, the living room, kitchen, den, bedroom, workspace, and reading nook, Olivia created an installation that resembled a breathing book. You could linger in one area, or metaphorically turn the page or move to the next chapter. The beauty of it, of course, was that you could select a book, sit down with it, and read it at your leisure. Creating little contextual spaces in which to sit is a fascinating way to enhance a book show.

I left with a warm feeling that put me in a good mood to teach my class that day. Congratulations to Olivia!


Carol said...

What a delightful way to stage an exhibition! Thank you for sharing your experience.

Kriste said...

What an interesting exhibit. Would love to go to looks er books!

Velma Bolyard said...

i like this, and how strong the home, how inviting, how simple, how rich it is.

Nesbit Library rocks! said...

I'd love to see this show. How long will it be up?

Alisa said...

So that all the Seniors get a chance to exhibit, our student shows are, sadly, only up for a week! Olivia had to strike the show by November 11.

Also, a couple details I missed, originally: The title was "Small Spaces: Safe Places," and the letterpress business cards were by Eva Moon Press.