Book Art Inspired by Hedi Kyle
June 5 - July 25, 201523 Sandy Gallery Portland, Oregon

23 Sandy Gallery is pleased to present HELLO HEDI, an international juried exhibition of book art celebrating influential book artist Hedi Kyle. This show features 56 works inspired by the myriad structures Hedi has invented during her long career as artist, conservator and teacher. Hedi has revolutionized the field of book arts with her penchant for play, material explorations and willingness to share.

Even as a child in Germany, Hedi loved to collect and make things out of found objects. Her family didn’t have many traditional toys, so instead she played with scraps of metal, wood and straw, seashells and other detritus. She kept hoards of her treasures hidden in caches outside of her parents’ house.

Happily for us, Hedi never quit her habits of collecting or making things. Instead, her habits just evolved. After art school, a short-lived job in advertising and a blissful year spent painting and drawing in Greece, Hedi moved to the United States to live with a man she met through a mutual friend. They got married and moved to the San Francisco area at the beginning of the hippie movement, where she found herself among other young mothers who enjoyed crafting and going to protests. Hedi made her first book in Berkeley, CA in 1968.

After she and her husband separated Hedi moved back East and found a job in the conservation department of the New York Botanical Garden. It was there that she became truly enamored and intimately familiar with books and their structure which led to her thirty-five year career in book conservation. At the same time her interests focused on exploring the book for other possibilities and purposes. She began to experiment and “play” with making her own books, often adapting and adding to existing structures. As Hedi once wrote, “The book as a mechanical device is basically immune to improvement, it is not immune to change.” Hedi found a haven at the New York Center for Book Arts, where she started teaching workshops. Later, she continued her work as a conservator at the American Philosophical Society and as a teacher at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia.

Hedi’s innovative book structures have hugely impacted the field of book arts. Inspired by the old books she learned to preserve as a conservator, her ongoing hoard of found objects, and architecture, Hedi has invented everything from her “signature,” the widely popular flag structure, adapted from a concertina fold; to the elusive Wunderkabinett; to the multi-pocket “blizzard book,” which she came up with one day when snowed in at her studio. Her complex and delightful structures have spread through the book arts world by way of workshops taught near and far.

The artists showcased in HELLO HEDI have done a magnificent job of emulating and building off of Hedi’s designs, encapsulating Hedi’s spirit of playfulness and transformation.

Standout pieces include Velicate by Karen Hardy, a delicate and somewhat unsettling book made out of real human hair. The flag structure enables the “soft tips of hair [to] brush over the viewer’s wrists,” encouraging a very physical and visceral experience of the piece.

Elsi Vassdal Ellis’s work, Desert Dreaming: Explorations & Excavations of HK in Greater Syria, requires an excavation in itself. It incorporates a multitude of Hedi’s structures in “30 books, artifacts and envelopes,” which are then packed into a lunchbox-style box.

Dorothy A. Yule, who took workshops from Hedi herself nearly forty years ago, celebrates Hedi with HEDIDAY: A portable holiday to celebrate the work of Hedi Kyle. This piece incorporates Wunderkabinett “gift boxes,” a flag book of “applause,” and much more.

Enough cannot be said about the remarkable books in this exhibition. They explode with color, folds, personality and love for Hedi Kyle. The artists shared both their work and their own personal stories of Hedi interactions and influences and they continue to spread Hedi’s inspiration by teaching her structures and continuing her tradition of freely sharing techniques and ideas. The lineage of makers in this arena is fascinating to observe.

HELLO HEDI is accompanied by a full-color print exhibition Catalog.

HELLO HEDI Exhibition Catalog

HELLO HEDI was juried by the founder of 23 Sandy Gallery, Laura Russell, who diligently evaluated 189 works submitted for HELLO HEDI, carefully rating each based on concept, craftsmanship and originality. Thank you to every talented artist who submitted such amazing, inspired work and to Hedi Kyle for her enthusiasm and support of this very special endeavor.

This exhibit features book and paper arts related works including limited edition and one-of-a-kind artist books and sculptural books by the following artists: Islam Aly, Susan Angebranndt, Jody Arthur, Charlene Asato, Alice Austin, Alicia Bailey, Cristina Balbiano d’Aramengo, Anita Bigelow, Ginger Burrell, R D Burton, Valerie Carrigan, Macy Chadwick, Laurie Corral, Jenny Craig, Dea Fischer, Alisa Golden, Joan Iversen Goswell, C J Grossman, Penelope Hall, Ian Hampton, Karen Hardy, Lotta Helleberg, Jennie Hinchcliff, Monica Holtsclaw, Paula Jull, Hilke Kurzke, Jihae Kwon, Roberta Lavadour, Louise Levergneux, Kyoko Matsunaga, Sarah Matthews, Scott McCarney, Tekla McInerney, Bea Nettles, Carol Norby, Bonnie Thompson Norman, Lisa Onstad, Virginia Phelps, Amy Pirkle, Gina Pisello, Katherine Pulido, Maria Veronica San Martin, Elizabeth Sanford, Judy Sgantas, Jaime Shafer, Fruma Shrensel, Jessica Spring, Elsi Vassdal Ellis, Mark Wangberg, Laurie Weiss, Helga Widmann, Rutherford Witthus, Dorothy A. Yule and Hedi Kyle herself.