My whole life, books have been sacred to me. A rip or a tear in a book was a reason to lament. In Jessica Drenk’s new piece, “Spine,” however, Drenk deftly shows how the altercation, through the processes of tearing and layering, of printed books can help open books up to new interpretations. The work, made of two parallel stacks of torn book pages layered and embedded within a wooden frame, has a verticality and segmentation about it that recalls the title of the piece. By ripping the pages of the book in various ways, Drenk has created a piece that is strangely organic despite its machine-made source. The texture and tonality of the piece are constantly changing due both to the variations in the printed source itself and the artist’s process of tearing the pages. When one observes the piece from up close, you can find readable fragments of text- reminding the viewer of the source material of the piece, and begging the question- what happens to information when it is manipulated and obscured?
Joey Strella, Wesleyan University 2015
Kerry Miller makes use of old discarded books by dissecting and rebuilding them to produce unique artworks. Layering to create 3D effects, she utilizes only the illustrations and shell of the book, while removing the written word.
Carolee Jakes’ print, The Sleep of Reason, references Francisco de Goya’s late 18th century etching, El sueno de la razon produce monstruous (The sleep of reason brings forth monsters). The believed self portrait shows the artist asleep at his work table, with tools laden around him and nightmarish creatures lurking above. The interpretation of Goya’s work is debated: Condemnation of Spanish society (this etching, after all, was one piece of his satirical multi-work series, Los Caprichos)? Or, the follies of mankind that arise when consciousness and moral judgement are asleep?
Goya’s intention in Sueno may be eternally obscured, but Carolee Jakes provides clues in her 2010 interpretation: At the foot of the figure is an “overdue notice”. Text in the wings of hovering bats read, “FAILED” and “BANK AUCTION”. Other devilish creatures harbor “NATION’S JOBLESS RATE TOPS 10%” (all words in caps). One could argue these issues too arise when consciousness is asleep.
Nadia Sesay, George Washington University 2009