Ten writers for children. All with something to say.


Beyond the Book

Last week I was honored to be part of an exhibition at the Bloomington Center for the Arts called: Beyond the Book: A Book Illustrator's Fine Art Exhibition. The illustrators Nancy Carlson and Stephen Gammell, in a conversation two years ago after Stephen had shown both his book illustrations and non-illustration paintings to a class Nancy was teaching, realized that a show of the work outside books by book illustrators might be a wonderful thing. And after much organizing on their parts and the gallery's, seven illustrators were chosen to show their "art beyond book illustration" and it was a wonderful thing!
Before making books, I was a painter/sculptor, so I was able to show some of the sculptures that continued early on in my book illustrating career~ inspired by my book, Scarecrow. But as illustrating books took up more and more of my studio time there has been very little time to saw, carve, and build with wood, thus the surface of clay panels seduced me and I began a series simply called: "Crow Paintings".
The Crow paintings have evolved over a period of ten years. They come from the deep places an artist can meander into and render in paint. Because books take me into the public and satisfy that part of me that loves to show my work, I am allowed to explore images like the "Crow Paintings" in the studio that do not necessarily need to be seen. I admit that I was reluctant to say yes to exhibiting at first, but the urging of a couple of artist friends convinced me to participate in the show.
I think the intention of the show was to blur the line between fine art and illustration, but for me as an artist, my approach to illustrating a book is very different from the intimate conversation between painted surface and myself in the studio. When illustrating a book, I am very aware of the collaborative effort of myself, author, editor, and publisher. With my paintings beyond the book, it is the quiet that dwells deep inside that is expressed like a poem.

There will be a panel discussion at the gallery in a few weeks. I am looking forward to the conversation on art in and out of the book!


Edie Hemingway said...

Congratulations on the honor of being included in this exhibition! I'm excited to see another side of your amazing work. Thanks for including the photos. And I'm intrigued by your comments about the difference between illustrating and working on an individual painting or sculpture!

Christy said...

I would LOVE to see this show--especially the crow paintings. Is there any kind of virtual gallery?

I have always found the lines between commercial art and studio art to be quite blurry. I've resisted labels that would suggest that illustrators are not fine artists. Seems to me that plenty of the later group work with constraints from galleries.I like the way you articulated the distinction for you--collaborative work vs work done completely alone. How freeing to explore form without imposed goals!

Noguchi created "fine art" that was often collaborative, working with architects, choreographers, musicians and others. He was hard hard to label, because he also created and manufactured lamps furniture and other sculptural objects. Fine art/commercial art, East/West, old/new--he merged it all.

I like that your show helps the public see the artist in a larger context.

Lauren said...

Yes, as I was writing about it, I wondered about the creative writing of authors-- those stories, poems, writings that never see the light of day in the publishing world, yet are complete in and of themselves.

Lauren said...

It all ultimately boils down to being creative. There are definitely different nuances though. I wish I could take you through the show-- at this time there is no "virtual gallery".

Library Jewel said...

I'm looking forward to that panel discussion to hear how each of you views the process of work versus the pieces you do simply for yourself. Your dedicated study of other artists' works throughout history enables readers to see their influence in your children's book illustrations.

Stephanie said...

Such gorgeous stuff! I would love to see the whole exhibit

David LaRochelle said...

I was one of the (many) lucky ones who was able to attend the opening night of this exhibit. ALL the work was amazing. Lauren's work in particular seemed very different from what I see in her books, and I enjoyed this deeper glimpse into her inner world. I was particularly impressed with how all these artists find time to explore their creative side in ways that weren't tied to a published book. I so seldom create art for art's sake; this exhibit inspired me to find time to just be creative.

Mark said...

Congratulations on the exhibit, Lauren. Your comments and insights into the "purposes" of various projects is thought-provoking stuff for all of us, I think.