Interplay: Photographers Focus on the Book

Interplay: Photographers Focus on the Book
Elizabeth M. Claffey, Lauren Henkin, Clifton Meador & Laura Russell|
April 6 - May 12, 2012 • 23 Sandy Gallery

To celebrate Portland Photo Month, 23 Sandy Gallery is pleased to present four photographers who create artist books using very different approaches in terms of style, structure, materials and concept. Interplay showcases one-of-a-kind and limited edition artist books by Elizabeth M. Claffey, Lauren Henkin, Clifton Meador and Laura Russell. From fine bindings to altered books, to print on demand books and pop ups, this show will is an exploration of the crossover between the art of photography and the art of the book. Each of the four artists use the book form to push beyond the two-dimensional limits of the photographic medium by melding their photos into art in the form of a book.

Elizabeth M. Claffey creates one-of-a-kind altered books. Her series titled Medical History, utilizes vintage medical text and reference books to explore family history and folklore through the juxtaposition of words, photographs, and pre-existing text. This work is inspired by the content of the found object, as well as by the artist’s folkloric inheritance, which often describes the physical experiences of family members and ancestors. Through personal narrative, this work comments on broader issues of physical intimacy, trends in medical science that can have permanent effects, and the meaning of the body in a familial context.

Lauren Henkin creates artist books that could be considered “fine press photographic artist books.” Her richly printed black and white images, high-quality papers and commissioned fine bindings are created in limited editions and feature images that pay homage to the overlooked or discarded in our everyday — toys left on the floor, dresses hanging in a closet, or trees growing beside dumpsters. Henkin tell us, “I work from the inside out, using photography as a way to share very personal experiences that hopefully, can be shared by many. When I look back on my work, seeing the progression from one series to another, I see a visual diary of my life, my worries, my fears and hopes.”

Clifton Meador is an artist whose work combines photography, writing, printmaking, and design to explore how history, narrative, and place shape the space of the book. Interplay will feature a project Meador created called Fifty Two. For the year after his fifty-second birthday, he made a book a week about the events and thoughts happening in his life each week. He did not hand-bind these books himself, but instead used a print on demand service as a way of allowing time to concentrate on articulating his ideas. His goal was creating word and image pieces that investigated how a book is a time-based experience of an idea, rather than making work that was extensive explorations of materiality in books. Meador tells us his “larger goal for this project was to engage the quotidian character of life as it is lived.”

Laura Russell takes a wholly different path in the creation of her limit-edition artist books. As a photographer in the digital world she found herself drawn to bookbinding as a way of using her hands again. After giving up the dark room to go digital, the book arts gave her a chance to step away from the computer screen. Her love of materials and the structural possibilities of the book give her the freedom to expand her photographic images to make books that are sculptural in nature. She revels in alternative book forms including pop up books and movable books and frequently incorporates non-traditional materials such as plywood, Plexiglas or Coroplast. Her limited edition, hand-bound artist books are at once a celebration of the vernacular and her own small efforts to preserve our social, cultural and commercial landscape.

Mark Your Calendar! Interplay Artist Talk Saturday, April 7, 2012, 4:00 - 5:00 p.m.
You are invited to an artist talk with three of the featured artists in Interplay: Photographers Focus on the Book. Elizabeth M. Claffey, Lauren Henkin and Laura Russell will talk about their very different approaches to making artists books using their own photographs. This event is free and open to the public. No reservations are necessary.

Elizabeth M. Claffey is a photographer and book artist currently based in Boise, Idaho, where she teaches photography at Boise State University. She holds an MFA in photography, with a secondary concentration in Women's Studies, from Texas Woman's University. After taking a Bachelor of Arts degree at Earlham College in 2003, where she received honors for her photographic thesis on women's body image issues and eating disorders, Elizabeth attended the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Her work has been recognized by Critical Mass, PDN Magazine, Galerie Huit, The Eddie Adams Workshop, and various other galleries and publications including The Chronicle of Higher Education, USA Today, The Dallas Morning News, and The Kinsey Institute.

Clifton Meador is an artist whose work combines photography, writing, printmaking, and design to explore how history, narrative, and place shape the space of the book. He has been the recipient of many grants and fellowships, most notably two New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships, and a Fulbright Scholar Award to the Republic of Georgia. His work is featured in many collections including the Library of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the Yale Art of the Book collection. He is currently a Professor and Director of the Interdisciplinary MFA in Book and Paper at Columbia College Chicago. Before coming to Columbia College Chicago in 2005, he was an Associate Professor at SUNY New Paltz, teaching design for ten years. He was the director of Nexus Press from 1985 to 1988, and has collaborated in producing many artists’ books.

Lauren Henkin is a private educator, reviewer, frequent speaker, Photolucida board member, author of five books, and active member in the photographic community. She graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a BA in Architecture. Her work is widely collected by private collectors as well as institutions such as Southeast Museum of Photography, Beinecke Library, Yale University and Baker-Berry Library at Dartmouth College. Her work has been published in numerous journals on photography and the book arts including Shots Magazine, Black+White Magazine, Diffusion Magazine, Flak Photo, Urbanautica, Landscape Stories, Parenthesis and The Washington Post. She is a Px3 multi-category winner, Oregon Regional Arts & Culture Council grant winner, with other award nominations in both the Brink Emerging Artist and Contemporary Northwest Art Awards. In addition, she founded Photo Radio, an online audio program presenting interviews with curators, gallerists, artists, publishers, educators and other industry professionals.

Laura Russell holds a BBA from Northwood University and had a 15-year career in graphic design and marketing before becoming a full time working artist in 2002 and then opening 23 Sandy Gallery in 2007. She has served on the boards of several organizations including Art Source Portland, Photolucida, the Portland Art Dealers Association and the Colorado Women’s Caucus for Art. Her artist books are collected by many museums and libraries; including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, SFMOMA, the University of California Berkeley Environmental Design Library, and the Tate Collection in London. She travels extensively to lecture on various topics related to the book and paper arts. This is the first time her work will be exhibited at the gallery.