Birds by James Allen -SOLD!

Birds is a book excavation created by altering a Golden Nature Guide of the same title. I added a grey paper cover to reinforce the original cover but all of the pages and content are bound in the original format. I've simply cut through the pages to reveal a series of birds in relief format. I particularly enjoy the loon whose distinctive call I would try to imitate as a child along with my brothers as we tracked the loon through binoculars on a lake in Minnesota. Must see TV! Oregon Art Beat, a weekly arts program on Oregon Public Broadcasting, has a fascinating segment about James Allen and his book excavations. Great video showing the process behind his art, in an in-depth, accessible manner. Watch it here.


A book excavation is a sculptural work of art made by transforming various types of old books using precise cuts with a scalpel or knife, carving pages one by one until an astonishing new composition reveals itself. This almost surgical focus of dissecting books results in a wholly new object infused with a graphical history that evolves as the artist exposes each layer of the book while cutting around interesting images or text. For most artists working in this remarkable medium, the process is performed without pre-planning or mapping out the contents before cutting into the books pages and/or covers. Finished book excavations often appear as cross sections of the book, carved to create an alternate universe previously hidden between the covers.

Artist Bio

James Allen lives and works in Portland, Oregon. His book excavations have been featured in exhibitions across the country including the Brooklyn Public Library, Cameron Art Museum, Watcom Museum, and San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art. His work can be found in collections including UCLA, University of Puget Sound, Ringling College of Art and Design, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, and Johns Hopkins University.