I have been a book artist for over 50 years (yikes!), and can trace my interest in bookmaking back to my high school art classes. Rubber cement and poorly measured pages make my early books look amateurish now, but I still treasure them.
After high school, I got sidetracked by other art processes as I made my way through art classes at the University of Washington. I survived a year in the UC Berkeley Art History graduate program, when I realized that I didn't want to be a spectator, I wanted to be a player...an artist. I honed my drawing and painting skills as I earned a degree in Art History, and a teaching certificate in K-12 art. I used the degree in Art History to significantly expand my visual vocabulary (what else can you use it for???), and my teaching certificate to teach K-12 art both privately and in the public schools. I opened and taught at the Island Art Space, teaching pre-schoolers on up to adults. I taught at Blakely Elementary for six years, and taught 5th and 6th grade art at Sonoji Sakai Intermediate School, where I retired years ago. During that time, I coordinated a Leslie University Cohort Program and received a Masters degree in Educational Techonology. Technology became a big part of my teacher bag of tricks.
After taking book arts courses from University of Washington professor Hazel Koenig (an incredible artist, teacher, taskmaster, and technician) while earning my teaching certificate, my interest in creating books was rekindled. I began to make books professionally under the press name MJ Bindery. I continued to learn about bookmaking, often feeling like a knowledge sponge. Julie Chen (Flying Fish Press) introduced me to the world of movable and pop-up structures, and Shawn Sheehy blew my mind at a workshop in Salt Lake City. For the first time, I really began to truly understand the engineering behind pop-ups. I currently make books under the press name Bad Girl Press.
I am both a printmaker and book artist, and often use my prints in my books. I use an Ettan etching press to make my prints, and am especially interested in photo-etching processes. Letterpress is one of the ways I add text to my books as well. I’m also a geek (M.A. Ed. in technology…), and like having some pretty sophisticated computer technology in my toolkit. However, I’m just as happy applying brush or pencil to paper.
I like to play around with ideas, both acceptable and irreverent. I do try to honor and be sensitive to the idea that others might be genuinely hurt by some of the ideas that I explore. However I also believe that exposure to new viewpoints is a good thing...it helps us grow, as painful as that might be.
Cynthia Sears has been an incredible patron of my work, and she has given my books to the Sherry Grover Gallery at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, where much of my work can be seen.
I was pleased to be asked to give a book arts talk at the Bainbridge Museum of Art about my work, and the video can be seen below.
Photo by Cameron Snow