Among selected titles on science was John Halaka’s recovered Silent Spring. His homage to Rachel Carson’s predictions of environmental collapse was a wood-carved binding inset with dead honeybees. Jo Anne Russo’s caterpillar-stitched embroidered cover of Walter Linsenmaier’s Insects of the World pointed to the current decimation of insect populations. Pages of physicist Carlo Rovelli’s The Order of Time were filled with Tatiana Ortiz-Rubio’s charcoal gray drawings expressing feelings of beauty and dread associated with time.
Artist and physicist Lynne Merchant animated The Evolution of Useful Things with full-page paintings of fantasized domestic objects. On the exhibition’s closing day, Cynthia Marsh spoke about her lifelong projects making new books and altering older volumes. Like castaways, Marsh’s books had withered plants sprouting from opened books’ gutters. Afterward, Sarah H. Paulson performed A burn and drop of gold accompanied by saxophonist Travis Laplante. Paulson painted leaves from an old ledger book with indigo and mica inks, at the same time creating two larger paintings with her right and left hands.
What happens to books after they are read? They can change us, but readers also change them with annotations and drawings, filing letters and related materials in their books. Highlighting artists’ retrievals of an encyclopedic range of titles, this exhibition illustrated the life of ideas flowing from authors to books to readers and their memories. The unique editions of both well-known and obscure works shown were engaging, humorous, and in several cases, truly haunting. With remarkably personal responses to books’ subjects, artists’ treatments served as invitations for viewers to enact their own recoveries.
Read about the artists, the books, and view the exhibition at artaroundbooks/recovery