Sunday, June 5, 2011

BOOK ARTS: Su Blackwell

I like doing projects in the summer, and this summer I decided it would be fun to do a series of posts about artists who use books in their work. I can't think of a better artist to start off with than Su Blackwell.

little red riding hood
Su Blackwell, Little Red Riding Hood, 2010

Blackwell's delicate book sculptures are the perfect metaphor for the tales they represent, offering a visual correlation between the potential magic and secrets that might be found in every book.

Blackwell says she grew up playing in the woods, where she would pretend the trees and birds were her friends. Her art projects reflect this childhood reliance on nature, but also contain a very grown-up sense of isolation and danger. In Little Red Riding Hood, for example, Red's being lost in the trees seems almost more threatening than the shadow of the wolf with in them--possibly because he's turned away from her.

mr. bronte's bedroom
[left] The Quiet American, 2005
[right] Mr. Brontë's Bedroom. Part of "Remnants" installation at the Brontë Parsonage Museum, Haworth, 2010

Blackwell's work also deals with themes of transition and transformation, from one world or form into another. This was evident in her first book sculpture, The Quiet American, which she created after her father passed away: she cut moth forms out of a book she bought in Thailand, referencing a Chinese legend about two lovers who are reunited after their deaths. Mr. Brontë's Bedroom, an installation created several years later, similarly has moths (or butterflies?) emerging from a pillow empty of everything but the impression of an absent body, suggesting the ghost of Mr. Brontë passing from one world into the next. The Secret Garden, meanwhile, is a book Blackwell has reinterpreted in her art several times, always focusing on the door between the enchanted garden and the other world.

the secret garden
[left] The Secret Garden, Finding the Door, 2007
[right] The Secret Garden, 2006

Blackwell's book sculptures remind me of one of my favorite artists, Remedios Varo, in that they are very narrative and fantastical, and balance the comfort of childhood with the psychological fears of adults.

If you want to learn more about Su Blackwell, watch the video at the beginning of this post or check out her website, which has a lot more images of her work:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...