Self Portrait As A Wicked Book by Sue Clancy -SOLD!


By personifying herself as an open book – (or more precisely, as the linen thread binding the books within this book) -  with original limericks and pop-up book elements the artist pokes fun at self-styled “moral” groups who personify inanimate objects; books, movies and other art objects by describing them as “immoral”, “wicked” or “sinful”.  By writing “clean” limericks the artist is poking fun at the idea that a poetic form like a limerick could be defined as a “naughty” art.  An object or art form is just that, an object or technique – what people do with it may have a good, bad or neutral effect. But even the effect depends on the viewer’s perspective.  Thus “Self Portrait as a Wicked Book” is enclosed in a hand-marbled envelope – implying that the contents could be hidden from view, that the viewer has a choice to view it or not. The book is intended to be displayed accordion style so that the viewer can see it from different angles of their own choosing.  The textual reference within the limerick to “overblown” refers to the ways self-styled “moral” groups would ascribe moral qualities to the entire personhood of an author as a result of one written object the author had created.  The content also refers – both textually and by using colorful marbling and pop-ups - to the ways that censorship (or a “wicked” designation) actually increases interest in the object banned.

Artist’s back story for this book: A religious segment of theOklahoma population has a penchant for banning books and a history of doing so.  To name two dramatic examples;  In 1997 the book “The Tin Drum” by Gunter Grass  and the movie by the same name was banned by Oklahoma City in such a way that the banning received national attention; Oklahoma City police went to the houses of adults, over the age of 21, who had rented the movie and seized it.  In 2005, the year I made “Self Portrait As A Wicked Book”, the Oklahoma House of Representatives banned all books – for children and adults - that had references to gay characters or gay people.  Around that time period I remember noticing that (inOklahoma) the commercial bookstores “gay book sections” got smaller and were hidden the back corner of the store.  Books that questioned religion, or discussed censorship in anything but a positive light were also few and far between.  There was a general perception – as evidenced by what was offered on library or bookstore shelves and what wasn’t, what books were reviewed in the Oklahoma media and what ones weren’t – that there were “good” books and there were bad, sinful, “wicked” ones – and this one group of self-styled “moral’ people would tell you which books were which and few people in Oklahoma dared (or even thought) to question that group.

Artist Bio

Sue Clancy (b. 1968 Norman, Oklahoma) has always loved books.  She made her first book when she was about 6 years old by humorously altering, re-binding, illustrating and writing-in a church hymnal.  After that “success”, which was widely acclaimed by her peers though not as well received by the adult critics, she continued throughout school to practice the arts of illustration and paper folding on her mathematics homework and to conceive English term papers as bound and illustrated art objects.  She went on to get a Bachelors of Fine Arts with an emphasis in graphic design from the University of Oklahoma.  While in college and for several years afterwards she was paid to design and make printed/published books of various ordinary sorts as well as to illustrate things for those books.  Finding graphic design to be relatively un-funny in 1996 she formed her own business focused on illustration and writing.  (She became an editorial cartoonist for 6 years and continues to create cartoons for publication – but never mind about the cartoons, here we’re talking about books.)  In 1996 Oklahoma she wasn’t able to find, in the available stores, a sketchbook that was bound durably containing paper pages of a kind that she wanted to draw and write on – so she began learning to bind her own books by reading books about book-binding and learning from other bookbinders often corresponding by snail mail with Shereen La Plantz and Keith Smith.  To practice her new book-binding skill she participated, for over 7 years, in the Art-O-Mat project by creating a popular line of hand-bound books the size of a pack of cigarettes which were dispensed from old cigarette vending machines.  Combining book-binding skill with her skills of papermaking, paper-marbling, paste paper making, print making, illustrating and writing – it wasn’t long before she was creating one of a kind content filled books as well as using her handmade papers as well as exploring  the narrative aspect of bound books as part of her 2 dimensional fine art.   That led to special commissions, and participation in group art exhibits nationally and internationally as well as including book arts with fine art exhibits – or vice versa.  Sue doesn’t see a line between fine art paintings and book arts – or where illustration and writing end and painting and book arts begin.  Her artwork both 2D and 3D has been exhibited and purchased by institutions such as the Wexford Ireland Arts Center, The Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art in Boulder Colorado, The John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan Wisconsin, The Wisconsin Historical Society, The Empty Space Gallery in Bakersfield California, CARF International in Arizona, The Oklahoma School of Science and Math and many others.

She’s also had a number of successful one woman exhibits, most recently at the Oklahoma State Capitol.  Her art resides in numerous private collections which include the Kennedy family in Washington D.C. and the private collection of New York Times bestselling author Billie Letts.

In Oklahoma she’d taught well attended workshops for many aspects of the book arts, she curated and juried exhibits and wrote a “business of art” column for Art Focus Oklahoma, a publication she’d helped to begin while on the board of the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition.  Also in Oklahoma she is represented by the Joseph Gierek Fine Art Gallery in Tulsa, Downtown Art & Frame in Norman and Istvan Gallery in Oklahoma City.

In 2011 she moved from Oklahoma to the Northwest where she is finding a more hospitable habitat in which to be a happy human humorously playing with words and pictures.