National juried exhibition of altered books at college gallery

Published 05.20.2024

The Gallery at Penn College
“Books Undone 2: The Art of Altered Books,” on display May 30-July 21 at The Gallery at Penn College, will feature 64 works, including these three pieces (from left: No. 1, No. 5 and No. 4) from Carole Kunstadt’s “Pressing On – Homage to Hannah More” series. The works incorporate antique sad irons, linen thread, paper: pages by Hannah More dated 1791; 7 inches by 14 inches by 10 inches.

A unique viewing experience unfolds for visitors to The Gallery at Penn College during its summer exhibition – “Books Undone 2: The Art of Altered Books,” opening May 30 and on display through July 21.

The national juried exhibit showcases 64 works by 41 artists from 20 states. Books transformed into art objects offer a celebration of ingenuity and revelation in design. Visual art and books have much in common: They express and evoke emotions, educate, share new ideas, tell a story and more. Such shared virtues make the book, as an art medium, powerful and complex.

A reception is set for 2 to 5 p.m., Sunday, June 2, in the gallery on the third floor of the Madigan Library at Pennsylvania College of Technology. Artist awards will be distributed. The reception and exhibition are free and open to the public.

“Books Undone 2” presents a diverse and compelling collection that captures our cultural time and place. Viewers can discover themes such as social justice, climate change, the human experience and more through beautiful, book-based forms. From full-sized dresses that scrutinize domestic violence to book installations that examine wrongful convictions, from erased books that bring awareness to the loss of natural ecosystems to sculptures that probe the loss of history, and from digital-based works that explore identity issues to intricately twisted book pages that investigate motherhood, the work is varied in form and concept.

Twelve Pennsylvania artists are featured in the exhibition: Caitlin Downs, Lancaster; Irwin Freeman, Philadelphia; Emily Green, Williamsport; Michael Hower, Enola; Jamie Jay, Sunbury; Isaac Karaffa, Williamsport; Patty Kennedy-Zafred, Murrysville; Ron Lambert, Bloomsburg; Amanda Lenig, Selinsgrove; Dave Stabley, Muncy; Maureen Vooz, Northampton; and Joanna Knox Yoder, Williamsport.

The other artists are: Cynthia Ahlstrin, Winthrop, Maine; Julie Bagamary, Fairview, North Carolina; Martin Brief, St. Louis, Missouri; Deborah Phillips Chodoff, Katonah, New York; Heather Cook, Buffalo, New York; Sue Cotter, Parowan, Utah; Emily Eldred, Springville, Iowa; Toby Lee Greenberg, New York City; Hairi Han, Chicago; Craig Hill, Gambier, Ohio; Dorsey Hogg, Burlington, Vermont; Maggie Kerrigan, Virginia Beach, Virginia; Carole Kunstadt, West Hurley, New York; Ryan Lewis, Kalamazoo, Michigan; Yvonne Love, Lewes, Delaware; Robin Miller, Bluefield, West Virginia; Lori Murphy, San Francisco; Chris Perry, Ridgefield, Connecticut; Janet Reynolds, Houston; Judith Serling-Sturm, Cincinnati, Ohio; Shawn Michelle Smith, Chicago; Laura J. Stein, New York City; June Tekaza, Wayland, Massachusetts; Frank Turek, Portland, Maine; Naomi S. Velasquez, Pocatello, Idaho; Marcia Vogler, Charlotte, Vermont; Shannon Weber, Cottage Grove, Oregon; Margaret Whiting, Waterloo, Iowa; and Nanette Wylde, Redwood City, California.

Four of the artists – Ahlstrin, Kunstadt, Perry and Stabley – had work exhibited in The Gallery at Penn College’s first exhibition of altered books, “Books Undone,” in 2018.

A total of 77 artists applied to “Books Undone 2,” with 163 works reviewed.

Scott McCarney, an artist, designer and educator residing in Rochester, New York, served as juror for the exhibition. He retired in 2020 after 16 years of teaching in the College of Art and Design at Rochester Institute of Technology.

He received formal design training at Virginia Commonwealth University and earned an advanced degree in photography from the University of Buffalo/Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester.

McCarney’s primary art practice has been in book form since 1980 and spans many media, from offset and digital printing to sculptural and site-specific installation. His works are widely distributed and can be found in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Victoria & Albert Museum, London; and Yale University Art Gallery, among others. His teaching and lecturing itinerary is varied and eclectic, in person (New Zealand, Korea, Mexico and South America) and online.

“As a juror and artist deeply committed to the book as an art practice, it was a joy to see so much work celebrating book culture in light of the screens, social media and digital communications that are so much part of our daily lives,” McCarney said. “It made me think of how nostalgia plays a part in this genre of artwork – in a good way.”

The Gallery at Penn College’s summer hours are: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; and 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays. (The gallery is closed on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays and will be closed July 3-7.) An exhibition catalog, designed by a Penn College graphic design student, will be available to in-person visitors while supplies last.

The Gallery at Penn College is a cultural asset to the college and local communities, providing the opportunity for appreciation and exploration of contemporary art and encouraging critical thinking and meaningful experiences.

For more information, email the gallery or call 570-320-2445.

For more about Penn College, a national leader in applied technology education, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free at 800-367-9222.

The exhibition includes Margaret Whiting's "Narrow Viewpoints: The Court and Legal Profession of Iowa," vintage optometrist lens, stack of paper circles with images of one eye of judges; 1 inch by 2 inches by 1.5 inches.
"Fragile Planet," by Janet Reynolds, features discarded atlas, metal globe frame; 18 inches by 13 inches by 2 inches.
"It's Not What You Expected," by Marcia Vogler, created with book pages, paper; 7 inches by 44 inches by 6 inches.
Lori Murphy's "Fewer Words," mixed media and a book page from Metropolitan Seminars in Art by John Canaday; 12.5 inches by 9.5 inches.