The Idea of Deity by James Allen -SOLD!

The Idea of Deity is a book excavation created by altering a found book called Hallucinogenic Plants, originally published by Golden Press in 1976. Some of the images which have emerged include a Makuna medicine man, an Inuit, amanita muscaria mushrooms, and marijuana leaves. I find the subject particularly fascinating at a time when top research facilities are finally able to test in clinical studies the potential for psychoactive drugs to help treat diseases and psychological disorders in conjunction with organizations like the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. This is shedding new light on a whole area of drugs that can pave the way for new medical treatments and greater understanding of the human mind and perception. 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 was born in 1977 in Great Lakes, Illinois and currently lives and works in Portland, Oregon where he shows at 23 Sandy Gallery. In 2000 He earned a BFA from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. Allen's artwork is included in Art Made From Books: Altered, Sculpted, Carved, Transformed published by Chronicle Books. In 2009 his work was exhibited at the Bellevue Arts Museum in The Book Borrowers: Contemporary Artists Transforming the Book. His Book Excavations are also in special collections libraries at UCLA, Ringling College of Art and Design, John's Hopkins University, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee and University of Colorado Boulder.