Thursday, April 28, 2016

Hedi Kyle and SF Center for the Book

The weekend workshop that Hedi Kyle was scheduled to teach at the San Francisco Center for the Book in April filled within an hour after it was posted to the website. There was a waiting list, but I was not on it. Having talked with Hedi Kyle in January at the College Book Art Association Conference, I was eager to talk with her again. Once her exhibit opened at SFCB and once the weekend began, however, I suspected I would not get a chance. Luckily, Julie Chen invited me to a little opening at Mills College where one of the book arts classes had curated a small show of a few innovative books that were invented or inspired by Hedi Kyle and others. Hedi would be there. And she was. 

So was Alastair Johnston, with whom she is speaking here.


And of course Julie Chen and Kathy Walkup.


And Sas Colby, who had had an exhibit with Betsy Davids and Jaime Robles at SFCB  a few months ago: Sisters of Invention. Other boldface names attending: Macy Chadwick and Dorothy Yule.


Sas invited Hedi and anyone else to come visit for the rest of the afternoon at her home and garden in Berkeley. It turned out to be just the three of us. We sat out on her deck and had tea/coffee and cookies and oranges. Her little dog Oscar flew through the air from floor to couch to floor to deck to lap. And I was so engaged I forgot to take any pictures whatsoever of that garden afternoon.

I visited Hedi's exhibition yesterday: The World of Hedi Kyle: Codex Curios and Bibli'Objets and took a few pictures to share.

I think of her title as the "Grandmother of Book Structures." Hedi is an artist and inventor. She dreams structures and forms. She seems to love materials and textures. In addition to books made with paper and ephemera, there is a whole case of work made with soap chips. Really, to study these images, you should get a copy of the catalogue from the Center. Hedi told me ahead of time that there were not many words in her catalogue because she just wanted to show the books. There is a brief introduction by Denise Carbone.

I loved this flag book made of mica. It appears so delicate, but because it is a mineral it has a strong material presence. According to the catalogue it is from an "Installation of appropriated cricket music on Mylar and Mica" (2007).


And why has no one else done this? These are "Cootie Towers" (2008). Graduated cootie catchers stacked up, made from "Japanese stencil facsimiles on UV Ultra paper." The patterning is wonderful and the tiny orange flag is an exquisite touch.


Part of the excitement of this exhibit lies in the three tables with "Touchable Books."




Hedi also makes collages with everyday materials.


I loved the use of the fishbone structure for "Morning with Spiders" (2009).


Another sculpture, which is in the catalogue, is a collection of graduated origami boxes that are attached to each other and displayed on their side. I posted instructions for these boxes in December, 2010 here. Hedi took them one step further by attaching them with the inner flaps of one box to the bottom of the next smaller one in "Nesting Boxes" (1993).

Nina at SFCB says the catalogues have been flying out the door. That students are lining up and waiting for the next shipment to arrive. It's not hard to see why. It feels like being close to the source.

If you are far away, you can still order catalogues from the Center on their website store.

5 comments:

Velma Bolyard said...

alisa, lucky you, to see this exhibit and to hang out with hedi and other book artists...(i got the catalog, too!) my weekend as a student with hedi was grand. i will tell you something that made me very happy: she bought some of my botanical handmade papers...it was thrilling that she wanted to see and touch and buy a stack of them!

Alisa said...

Velma, That's wonderful! And just imagine what she might do with them…!

Velma Bolyard said...

i know! i've always meant to ask her, but haven't had the chance. she was in syracuse teaching oh, about 8 years ago.

Alisa said...

I still hope to have a chance to study with her or work with her somehow. I'm an indirect student. Not quite the same.

Velma Bolyard said...

you will love working with her. she is a generous and rigorous teacher. and fun!