Friday, June 17, 2011

Art I wish I'd made

I've looked at a lot of art in my lifetime, and really liked a lot of it.  But there's a subset of art I like, and that's art I wish I'd made.  Art that strikes such a chord of recognition and empathy that I can almost put myself into the head of the artist as she worked, understanding her thoughts, her inspiration, her work process.  Or at least I feel that I could. 

That's the way I felt when I saw the work of Teri Dryden, now on display at Hudson Home in Louisville.  Teri makes collages out of old books, tearing them apart to salvage their covers and spines, and occasionally some bits of text or diagrams.  Then she puts them together into spare and mysterious compositions that deconstruct and honor the tradition of books and published knowledge.

Personal Property (detail below)

Constant Counsel (detail below)

Good Housekeeping

Coloring Book

Black Mirror

Did this show send me home wanting to tear the cover off a book and make a collage out of it?  You betcha!  (Well, I already do exactly that now and then, but now I want to go make a whole lot of them, and I wish they would look as good as Teri Dryden's!)


  1. Thank you for sharing, i like it a lot too.
    My first impresion was: "Of course, why not?, the following thought: "well, this is why she is an artist, doesn´t ask nor wait for permission; just react to a need".
    All of them have the beauty of the real things.
    Big work. Superb photos.

  2. I can't say that I get anything out of that kind of "art." Maybe it's me.

  3. I was raised with the "a book is a sacred object" tradition and this fashion for destroying books to use them as art supplies pains me terribly. That said, Dryden's work also resonates with me. Recently, at the Whitney I saw an exhibition of works by Charles LeDray. He's most known for his miniatures of clothing and uniforms, but there were a few renderings of miniaturized books orgaanized and pinned in a display case as though they were butterflies. It captured the 'endangered species' quality that books have taken on for me and I am still haunted by the images.

  4. I was raised in that same tradition and still have trouble tearing one apart. But knowing that even libraries don't want old books any more has changed my attitude a bit. I have tried and tried to pass on old books to somebody, somewhere, somehow that they might still be used, but that is impossible. And truth be told, many books aren't worth reading any more -- they were bad to start with, or they're sadly obsolete. So I'm putting them to better use than simply landfill fodder. Or at least that's what I tell myself. Hope I'm right.

    I do know LeDray's work but haven't seen the books. Thanks for the link!

  5. I fully agree with you, Kathy - isn't this wonderful, and so inventive. Although the book lover cringes - and I am one of those, too - it really shows you how to upgrade the value and beauty of those books you don't want to keep. And there are some of them around, so why not put them to the use of art-educating the uncommon reader. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Books used to be "sacred" for me too.
    Is she destroying or she creating something?
    Buñuel said he teared off (rip out?) a page after reading it. I felt shocked and through the years i thought on that. One day i was sorting my books and felt tired and thought "knowledge takes room"..and sometimes too much and i understood him!!.
    Of course to make that seems violence and i have to remind myself that art is a lenguage itself to truly understand the meaning of that work.
    To make that with a book you love may means that you don`t need to read it anymore because it is in your heart forever.
    I have books i love that my children will never be interested in...but may be they could love an art work make it from it.
    There are books i hated because had so many words that means nothing, empty words not based on experience. Such a books are not worthing to donate and be able to create something real with it has genious.
    I appreciate art work that open my mind and heart and most of the times isn't nice work.