Abandoned books altered into art

The idea for an exhibition now on view at the Lexington County Public Library began with a book—or rather, 15 books. Stacked haphazardly on the curb outside a public library in Orangeburg, 15 oversized trade journals had exceeded their life span and were being offered to any passer-by who could foresee a use, or in this case, a rebirth. Fiber artist Susan Livingston worked at the library and discovered the books. Large and cumbersome, the books were deemed uninteresting, except to Livingston, who knew they could be “something” and decided to rescue them. It took her three trips to load the books into her car and another three trips to haul them up to her second-floor studio, where the books sat for a few years. Soon afterwards, I met Livingston. She gave me a book and shared her thoughts that the books’ size allowed for many possibilities — and perhaps a group project.

Together, we created the idea of an altered book show by women artists. After brainstorming possible titles and taglines, we settled on “volumes,” with artist Janette Grassi suggesting the word “bound.” Thus volumes: women bound by art was created.

Thirteen books were altered for the exhibition, leaving one to be used as a guest register and one to remain intact to display along with the altered books. Thirteen artists from a diversity of mediums, ages, ethnicities and career stages were invited to participate. The artists — art professors, potters, fiber artists, graphic designers, illustrators, painters, photographers and mixed media artists — were given total creative freedom.

The show opened at The Portfolio Art Gallery in Columbia on September 20, 2012. Many of the book artists painted the wall for the exhibition and installed the show. All of the artists chipped in to cover the costs of the printed materials and provide the food and wine for the opening reception. From inception, the show has been about women working together to create art opportunities and support for women artists.

The altered books’ journey from library curb to library exhibition came about when Lolly Petroft, branch manager of the Cayce-West Columbia library, attended the opening reception and wanted to share the altered books with Lexington County residents. She encouraged Mark Mancuso, branch manager of the Lexington County Public Library, to view the installation, and plans were made to exhibit the works.

The artists:

  • Volume 1: Eileen Blythe
  • Volume 2: Cynthia Colbert
  • Volume 3: Jessica Cruser
  • Volume 4: Janette Grassi
  • Volume 5: Doni Jordan
  • Volume 6: Susan Lenz
  • Volume 7: Susan Livingston
  • Volume 8: Yukiko Oka
  • Volume 9: Kay Reardon
  • Volume 10: Liisa Salosaari Jasinski
  • Volume 11: Virginia Scotchie
  • Volume 12: Lani Stringer
  • Volume 13: Laura Windham

volumes: women bound by art is on view at the main branch of the Lexington County Public Library until Feb. 28. The exhibition will travel to USC Upstate in 2014 and talks are underway to travel the show to the Upstairs Artspace Gallery in Tryon, N.C. in 2014.

Volume 10 From Engines to Fittings The Essence

Liisa Salosaari Jasinski, Volume 10 From Engines to Fittings The Essence

The Lexington County Public Library is located at 5440 Augusta Road in Lexington. Hours are 8:30 a.m. – 8 p.m. Monday – Thursday, 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Friday – Saturday and 2 – 5 p.m. on Sunday.  For more information, contact Mark Mancuso at (803) 785-2673.

Doni Jordan is a visual artist who works in multiple mediums.