BOOK opens tomorrow night (Friday, Oct. 19) at 709 Penn Gallery. Reception 6-8pm.
In the spring of 2012, my parents’ house (my childhood home) was struck by lightning, reducing my father’s vast library of books, collected over a lifetime, to ash. The devastation of this fire, coming at a time in our culture when digital books are outselling print books and bookstores are disappearing from our landscape, made me reflect on the idea that books as we currently know them may soon become precious objects. While artists continue to create "artists' books" as art objects, using printed matter as an art material has also become a very vibrant trend. In BOOK, I invited artists Seth Clark, Dana Ingham, Randie Snow and Brett Yasko to reflect on the material nature of books, and changes in the way we perceive and consume them. I chose these four Pittsburgh artists because I admire their work, each has a unique perspective, and because each is a graphic designer with a sensitivity to text.
(The World and Will and Representation, cut and folded pages by Dana Ingham)
(Detail of Ingham's piece above)
Seth Clark describes his series in Book: “The New York Times Style Magazine commissions various artists to interpret their logo for the publication's cover. Many times, these adaptations are physically built to only later be photographed, printed and distributed. Something is lost in this (d)evolution. As print turns digital, we get even further away from an original form and experience. Here, I celebrate the original.”
Dana Ingham titles his work from the book from which it is made: The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, about the relationships between religion and the economic and social life in modern culture. (Max Weber, 1904, translated by Talcott Parsons, 1930). Weber's work articulates a connection between religious motivations and economics and describes the Protestant work ethic as the precursor to Capitalism. Prosperity, like salvation, can be seen as a correlation between intelligence, confidence, dedication and hard work.
The silhouettes in Ingham’s work are from photographs taken in and around Pittsburgh. “Juxtaposed against the text of Weber's book, I wonder if intelligence, confidence, dedication, hard work and investment are still paths to prosperity and virtue available to everyone,” Ingham inquires.
Randie Snow creates “Book Relics,” speaking to the way books and traditional photographs are going by the wayside, becoming something to covet. In Snow’s Bible Series, she pairs virtues with their opposite sin, such as Chastity and Lust, Pride and Humility. Her new series explores themes of death and horror through literature, including Dracula and Frankenstein.
Brett Yasko presents five sets of books in which he has transcribed the complete dialogue from four movies and a television show from the 1980s that he still remembers “because of a particular scene where the male character is either professing his love to, breaking up with, or being dumped by the female character.” In the unique way these dialogues are transcribed, each pair of books in the set relies on two people reciting the text between them.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Seth Clark is a Pittsburgh based artist and designer. Abandoned and collapsing architecture has served as a central focus of his work for over four years. He earned his BFA in Graphic Design in 2008 from Rhode Island School of Design and has since been awarded two Design Excellence Awards from the American Institute of Graphic Arts, Pittsburgh. His drawings and paintings have shown nationally, most recently earning him Best in Show at the Three Rivers Arts Festival and publication in New American Paintings.
Dana Ingham’s artistic life began as a kid, constantly drawing from comic books and Mad Magazine, and building forts from scrap lumber. He says these pursuits are what led him to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and a degree in Visual Communications. Ingham has been a freelance graphic designer and artist working in Pittsburgh since 1986.
Randie Snow is an assemblage artist based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her work strives to find harmony amongst seemingly contradictory ideas.Visually influenced by her background as a commercial graphic designer, Snow’s assemblages incorporate found objects, both man-made and natural, each contributing what she refers to as “a sense of energy and life lived.” Each object takes on emotional qualities that contribute to a collective voice, ultimately telling the story of their combined experience and history.
Brett Yasko is currently Director of Design for the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. He also works with select clients on a freelance basis from a one-person studio in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His work has been recognized in exhibitions such as AIGA 365 and 50 Books, 50 Covers and written about in publications and websites including Communication Arts, Print, How, the New York Times, The Nation, Metropolis, Dwell, Good, Azure, Fast Company, NPR and Design Observer as well as Pittsburgh’s Post-Gazette, Tribune-Review and City Paper. He’s a member of the adjunct faculty at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design.
709 Penn Gallery is located on 709 Penn Ave. / Downtown Pittsburgh Cultural District
Hours: Wed. & Thurs. 11 a.m.–6 p.m.; Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m.–8 p.m.; Sun.11 a.m.–5 p.m.
709 Penn Gallery is a Project of The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Education & Community Engagement department.
Exhibit runs through November 18.