Layers of meaning unfold in altered books exhibition

Published 06.04.2024

Photos by Alexandra Butler, photographer/photo editor

The Gallery at Penn College
Faculty & Staff
Campus Events
Capturing first place in the national juried exhibition, "Books Undone 2: The Art of Altered Books," is Margaret Whiting's "Commentaries on American Law: Coal Energy."

A reception for “Books Undone 2: The Art of Altered Books” was enjoyed by nearly 100 people on Sunday. The national juried exhibition is on display through July 21 in The Gallery at Penn College.

Awards were presented to six of the exhibiting artists:

First place: “Commentaries on American Law: Coal Energy,” by Margaret Whiting, of Waterloo, Iowa
Second place: “237 Ripples: ribbon (falls),” by Chris Perry, of Ridgefield, Connecticut
Third place: “Everted Sanctuaries VI,” by Ryan Lewis, of Kalamazoo, Michigan
Honorable Mentions: “Biography: Unwritten,” by Toby Lee Greenberg, of New York City; “Towers,” by Dave Stabley, of Muncy; and “Blue Field no. 2” by Laura J. Stein,” of New York City

Scott McCarney, an artist, designer and educator residing in Rochester, New York, served as juror for the exhibition.

He reviewed 163 works submitted by 77 artists and selected 64 pieces for the show, spotlighting the ingenuity of 41 artists from 20 states. Twelve of the artists attended the reception and answered visitors’ questions about their creations.

The Gallery at Penn College’s first exhibition of altered books, “Books Undone,” was held in 2018.

Located on the third floor of The Madigan Library at Pennsylvania College of Technology, the gallery’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.) For more information, visit the gallery site.

Guests photograph (and appropriately bookend) Chris Perry's "237 Ripples: ribbon (falls)," which received second place.
A close-up image of Marcia Vogler's "It's Not What You Expected" reveals layers of meaning ...
... being enjoyed on a gallery pedestal by intrigued viewers.
"American Portraits: Spring Harvest," by Patricia Kennedy-Zafred, features Dust Bowl-era photographs, courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Among the exhibiting artists on hand for the reception is Heather Cook, a Buffalo, New York book artist. Her sculpture is titled "Climbing Out."
"Untitled grid, from Reading Uncle Tom's Cabin" shares the artistic and social explorations of Chicago professor and author, Shawn Michelle Smith.
William F. Geyer, a retired Penn College building construction faculty member, ponders Toby Lee Greenberg's "Biography: Unwritten."
Cynthia Ahlstrin, of Winthrop, Maine, stands next to one of her two dresses included in "Books Undone 2." This work, "Baby Dolls (No Matter When You Sleep, You're Protected)" was crafted with book pages, bubble wrap and nickel-coated wire, among other media.
A digital entry by Ryan Lewis is examined by gallery-goers. The third-place winner communicates the complex needs of introverts and asks viewers to consider the depths and vulnerabilities concealed beneath silent surfaces.
Artwork of another kind, created by local flower farm, Long Lane Farms
Penn College President Emeritus Davie Jane Gilmour and her husband, Fred, an alumnus and emeritus faculty, take in the inspiring compositions.
Honorable mention honoree Toby Lee Greenberg, of New York City, poses with her work, "Biography: Unwritten," paying homage to those on death row who have been wrongfully convicted.
A visitor views "Banned! An Incomplete Visual History of Book Banning in America" ...
... by Judith Serling-Sturm, of Cincinnati, Ohio, who says "it is not possible to barricade ideas."
Dave Stabley, of Muncy, discusses his honorable mention-winning "Towers," one of two pieces in the show. Stabley is a part-time art faculty member at Penn College, having retired from full-time service.
Another Penn College faculty member represented in the exhibition is Joanna Knox Yoder, of Williamsport, a photography instructor who shares a personal family story in a series of three works (two of which are cyanotypes).
A second effort by Shawn Michelle Smith studies the haunting and violent nature of "Uncle Tom's Cabin."
The framed piece at center is by Laura J. Stein, of New York City. Her paper collage, "Blue Field no. 2" earned an honorable mention.
Isaac Karaffa, of Williamsport, explores the practicality, mythology and paradox of atlases in "Valley Boy."
Stabley and Jean Downing, a fiber artist from Bloomsburg, consider Ron Lambert's "Body of Research."
Another artist gracing the gallery is Maureen Vooz, of Northampton, with her creation, "A Work in Progress."
"Books Undone 2" is on display through July 21 in Penn College's inviting gallery.