Contemporary artist books focusing on religion and spirituality
November 7 - December 20, 201423 Sandy Gallery Portland, Oregon  


Best of Show: Apparitions Among Us by Louise Cabeen
Best of Show: Time by Shireen Holman 
Best of Show: I Observe These Sacred Rites by Dr. Bob Pliny

Library Purchase Prize: The Dreamer’s Room by Anita Bigelow


SACRED | PROFANE is a juried exhibition of book art focusing on religion and spirituality. For this show we sought out works that take a stand or cross the line between the sacred and the profane, the dichotomy of often-polarizing points of view.

This exhibition features 57 books by 52 artists on topics such as: ritual and ceremony, creation and evolution, myth and memory, heaven and earth, superstition and scholarship, sacred and secular, rites and symbols, traditional and modern, occult and omnipresence, agnostic and atheistic, west and east.

As we all know, religion has a close relationship to books and texts. The Bible, the Quran, the Torah, Buddhist sutras, the Bhagavad Gita, the Dao Dejing, along with many others, are all books deeply religious. With this exhibition, book artists had a chance to explore their own relationships to and rejections of religion and spirituality through the creation of their own sacred and profane artist books.

SACRED | PROFANE was juried by Jim Carmin, who has directed the operations of the John Wilson Special Collections at Multnomah County Library since 1998. Prior to that he was an art librarian at the University of Oregon and sold books, rare and otherwise, at Powell's City of Books in Portland. He has a Bachelor's in studio art and Masters in Library Science from Ball State University, a Masters in Art History from the University of Oregon, and has attended Rare Books School at the University of Virginia with classes in bindings and typography. Related interests include reviewing contemporary fiction for The Oregonian and the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune; letterpress printing and bookbinding; and curating exhibitions in literary and book arts. This summer he'll be teaching a course on Medieval manuscripts and early printed books at Portland State University. Also juried by Laura Russell, owner of 23 Sandy Gallery.

SACRED | PROFANE is accompanied by a full color print catalog.

SACRED | PROFANE is accompanied by a full color print catalog. Click the image above to order your copy today.

SACRED | PROFANE • Juror’s Statement

In the beginning books were saturated in the divine. The words they contained brought forth the word of God and in early times few objects could possibly be more sacred. Yet humans are intellectual creatures and with their inherent curiosity along with perceived injustices in the politics and policies of the church, questions were raised and expressed, and later put into books. Thus the concept of sacred and profane has been with us for almost as long as books have been produced.

For this exhibition, we jurors hoped to gather a collection of books and bookworks that captured these concepts in a contemporary context. Through a blind selection, seeing only images of the art object along with the artist’s statement, selections were made with the idea foremost in mind of quality, diversity, and expressive potential as it related to the theme of the show.

Some selections clearly reflected old traditions in bookmaking, others the complete opposite, exactly as we had hoped might happen. Some books were dependent on text, others devoid of words. There was a wide range of work to examine, some made solely for this exhibition while other work was produced in the past but seemed perfectly suited for the concept brought forth by this show.

There was never any doubt that there are a great number of skilled artists working today who use the book as a starting point for their creative expression but it’s good to be reminded of it and seeing all the great work that came to the gallery for this show was heartening and uplifting. Our sincere thanks go out to all the artists who submitted their work for the exhibition. Your sustained efforts and profound contributions keep culture alive and healthy, and for that we applaud you.

Jim Carmin

 SACRED | PROFANE features the work of the following artists:
Islam Aly, Iowa City, IA | Tania Baban, Marina del Rey, CA | Alicia Bailey, Aurora, CO | Kate Barber, North Adams, MA | Anita Bigelow, Portland, OR | Louise Cabeen, Seattle, WA | Clare Carpenter, Portland, OR | M. Bernadette Castor, Portola Valley, CA | Gatis Cirulis, Las Cruces, NM | Robin Batchelor Cushman, Eugene, OR | Carol DuBosch, Portland, OR | Emily Dyer, Salt Lake City, UT | Mari Eckstein Gower, Redmond, WA | Arini Esarey, Bloomington, IN | Walter Feldman, Providence, RI | Cari Ferraro, San Jose, CA | Diane Fine and Mario LaPlante, Plattsburgh, NY | Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord, Newburyport, MA | Vicki Gerton, Richland, WA | Mar Goman, Ridgefield, WA | Francine Goodfriend, Santa Rosa, CA | Patricia Grass, Forest Grove, OR | Stewart Harvey, Portland, OR | Josh Hockensmith, Pittsboro, NC | Shireen Holman, Montgomery Village, MD | Arlyn Johnson, Patagonia, AZ | Jared Joseph, Santa Cruz, CA | Paula Jull, Pocatello, ID | Naomi Kasumi, Seattle, WA | Dorothy Krause, Ft. Lauderdale, FL | Carrie Larson, Hoquiam, WA | Julie Leonard, Iowa City, IA | Mary Jeanne Linford, Bainbridge Island, WA | Rachel Livedalen, Fort Worth, TX | Susan Lowdermilk and Denis Keough, Eugene, OR | Marvel Maring, Omaha, NE | Sarah McCoy, Des Moines, IA | Erin Mickelson, Portland, OR | Chandler O’Leary and Jessica Spring, Tacoma, WA | Ippy Patterson, Hillsborough, NC | Meryl Perloff, San Luis Obispo, CA | Francesca Phillips, Teror, Gran Canaria | Linda Piacentini-Yaple, Bend, OR | Dr. Bob Pliny, Portland, OR | Katya Reka, Las Cruces, NM | J. Anna Rich, Portland, OR | Lynn Skordal, Mercer Island, WA | Bessie Smith Moulton, Falmouth, ME | M. L. Van Nice, Somerville, MA | Elsi Vassdal Ellis, Bellingham, WA | Candy Wooding, Ashland, OR | Philip Zimmermann, Tucson, AZ

Thank you!

Lastly, thank you to all of the participating artists for such creating such juicy, thoughtful, deep and considered work. And, big thanks as well to our juror, Jim Carmin, whose keen eye and thoughtful insights made this show one of our best ever.