Published May 1, 2018

Recovered by BINDER #1
Seventeen
by Booth Tarkington
original publisher, Grosset & Dunlap, 1915-16
Artist’s Statement: This is one of 40-some books I have “saved” from a landfill fate. In choosing the books, they must be published before 1960, hardcover, and of particular interest. This book as in a thrift store among many books that may have been from a deceased person’s library. I liked this book because of its age and the fragility of the paper. I made Seventeen into a painted book in 2012, and it has been in, with other of my books, two exhibitions. …The purpose in painting the covers of these books is not only to render them into objects of art, but also to stimulate the discussion and appreciation of books as forms of material culture we humans have depended upon in the past and present, and will continue to rely upon in the future. … We humans have built our civilizations through the invention of a material vehicle for passing on and creating knowledge. This vehicle–the book–has always been vulnerable; therefore, we have placed books in protected locations such as libraries. Books take up scarce space. We often dispose of them in landfills, after they have been scanned and digitized. Only recently have we appreciated that digitized knowledge is itself vulnerable, as hacking episodes demonstrate. Moreover, electronic knowledge quickly becomes obsolete, thereby threatening to eradicate valuable knowledge that the original sources–books–encoded. Thankfully, there now exists a small but growing movement to sustain/reconfigure the traditional book. My project provides a distinctive contribution to this movement by fusing aesthetic, intellectual, and material aspects of individual books. The result, I hope, is an appealing extension of the book form.
Process: spine covered with artist’s tape and the front cover is brushed with a protective layer of gesso. The painting imagery is then drawn on the dried, gessoed front cover ready to be painted using oil paint with a texturing agent. After the paint has dried, the tape covering the spine is removed.

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