Books as Art Decorate Penn College Library, Gallery

Visually stunning reinventions of the printed page will fill the Madigan Library at Pennsylvania College of Technology in two exhibitions in January and February.

“Books Undone: The Art of Altered Books,” a national juried exhibit, will showcase 58 imaginative works in The Gallery at Penn College, located on the third floor of the library, and “Old Books/New Lives: The Art of Upcycling,” a display of student creations, will be presented on the first floor of the library.

The exhibits will run Jan. 11 through Feb. 28, with a gallery reception scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 18, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Awards for “Books Undone” works will be presented at 5:30 p.m. The reception and exhibits are open and free of charge to the public.

Adele Crawford's “Spinning Lexicon,” dictionary, dowel, found box, 12 inches by 5 inches

Throughout history, books have been read, burned, banned and collected. Today, books are both valuable and disposable. Contemporary artists hold the history of books – from scrolls (circa 2400 B.C.) to vegetable-fiber paper (China, circa A.D. 100) to woodblock printing (Europe, 1418) and the Gutenberg Bible (1456) – in their hands when they choose to transform books into works of art. Reflective artists convert this long-revered written communication artifact into a visual communication object – often to great effect. The Gallery at Penn College is pleased to highlight the community of artists working in this important medium.

“‘Books Undone’ presents a sample of the current work being produced in the medium of altered books,” said Penny Griffin Lutz, gallery director. “This national exhibition includes works that examine social issues, cultural transformations, global and economic issues, personal concerns and, of course, stories.”

The works of 27 artists will be featured in the “Books Undone” exhibit, including three Pennsylvania residents: Jamie Hannigan, of Clarks Summit, and David Stabley and Deborah Stabley, of Muncy. The Stableys are members of Penn College’s art faculty.

Doug Beube’s “Fallen Borders,” altered atlas, collage, 12.5 inches by 11.75 inches

The other artists are: Cynthia Ahlstrin, Winthrop, Maine; Heather Allen Hietala, Asheville, North Carolina; Seth Apter, New York; Cara Barer, Houston; Heather Beardsley, Virginia Beach, Virginia; Doug Beube, Brooklyn, New York; Caryl Burtner, Richmond, Virginia; Adele Crawford, Oakland, California; Edwin Jager, Oshkosh, Wisconsin; Peggy Johnston, Des Moines, Iowa; Kevin H. Jones, New Orleans; Carole P. Kunstadt, West Hurley, New York; Mary Larsen, Biscayne Park, Florida; Susan Lenz, Columbia, South Carolina; Adriane Little, Kalamazoo, Michigan; Greg Lookerse, Boston; Chris Maddox, Madison, Wisconsin; Anthony Mead, Tempe, Arizona; Christopher Moss, Savannah, Georgia; Brenda Oelbaum, Dexter, Michigan; Chris Perry, Ridgefield, Connecticut; Gregg Silvis, Newark, Delaware; Adam White, Maplewood, Minnesota; and Julie Wills, Chestertown, Maryland.

Peggy Johnston’s “Gemini Pod 2,” recycled book, wire, thread, beads, shell, 5.5 inches by 6.5 inches by 6 inches

One example of the compelling pieces can be found in Little’s works, focused on author Virginia Woolf.

“I am interested in studying both her writing and her as a woman who experienced early and profound loss,” Little writes. “Each altered book is an entire Woolf novel and has been paired with water sources that are relevant to either the book or Woolf’s life.”

In the work “Refugee Atlas,” Beardsley embroiders the interventions that relate to the current refugee crisis in various European countries.

“The gallery received over 190 works of art by 84 artists from 28 states for the original call for entries,” Lutz said. “The juror was charged with selecting 50 to 60 works and did an excellent job culling unique, thought-provoking and distinctive pieces for the final exhibit. We are pleased to host this significant exhibit in the gallery.”

Jason Thompson, founder and president of Rag & Bone Bindery and author of “Playing with Books,” served as the submission juror. The prize juror will be Sue O’Donnell, visual artist and associate professor of graphic design at Bloomsburg University. Prizes will be announced at the opening reception.

A limited-edition catalog of the “Books Undone” exhibit will be available while supplies last.

For the “Old Books/New Lives: The Art of Upcycling” exhibit, the Madigan Library and The Gallery at Penn College invited students, faculty and staff to upcycle a selection of old books into creative art objects or unique works of art.

Public and academic libraries remove thousands of books that are no longer relevant each year. Noting the number of outdated books weeded from the library shelves each year and inspired by the new art form of altered books, Lutz and Penn College Librarian Patricia A. Scott developed the idea for the upcycling exhibition. Rather than disposing of books that have outlived their usefulness, Penn College students and employees would be encouraged to creatively upcycle Madigan Library’s culled books, and see their handiwork on display.

Dozens of students participated in upcycling projects during class time and joined in open workshops conducted in the library throughout the fall semester.

“We are thrilled that several Penn College faculty members took this project to heart and encouraged their students to participate,” Lutz said. “We received works from students majoring in architecture, industrial design, welding, HVAC, automotive, construction, graphic design and more. Each piece is unique and, we believe, will draw viewers in!”

The Gallery at Penn College is open 2 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays, and 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays. It is closed on Saturdays and Mondays, and it will be closed Sunday, Jan. 14, during the “Books Undone” exhibition.

The Madigan Library’s hours are 7:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Mondays and Tuesdays, 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays, and noon to 2 a.m. Sundays. The library will be closed Saturday, Jan. 13 and Sunday, Jan. 14, with special 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. hours on Monday, Jan. 15.

The Gallery at Penn College serves as an educational resource for Penn College students and a cultural asset to the college and community. The gallery is dedicated to promoting art appreciation through exhibitions of contemporary art.

For more about Penn College, a national leader in applied technology education, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

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Pennsylvania College of Technology is a special mission affiliate of The Pennsylvania State University