MCBA / Jerome Book Arts Fellowships Series XII

MCBA/Jerome Book Arts Fellowships Series XII
September 30 – November 30, 2014
Open Book Cowles Literary Commons

Visual artist and writer Georgia A. Greeley
Book artist, designer and shoe maker Amara Hark-Weber
Mixed media artist Lisa Loudon and sculptor Alonso Sierralta
Tattoo artist, illustrator, and printmaker Amoreena “Amo” Tarvas

Opening reception Tuesday, September 30; 6-9pm, with a brief program at 7:30.

Since 1985 the Jerome Foundation has helped artists push the boundaries of contemporary book arts by supporting the creation of new book works. Through the MCBA/Jerome Book Arts Fellowships, Minnesota artists of diverse disciplines — including printers, papermakers, binders, painters, sculptors, poets, photographers, essayists and others — have created projects ranging from exquisitely crafted fine press volumes to documented performances to one-of-a-kind installations that “break the bindings” and redefine conventional notions of book form and content. This exhibition marks the culmination of the twelfth series of Book Arts Fellowships.

Jurors for Fellowship Series XII were Kathy Heuer, Rachel Melis and Wilber H. “Chip” Schilling. These three jurors, reflecting diverse perspectives and considerable expertise, reviewed 28 applications and selected the recipients.

Georgia A. Greeley is an artist and writer who lives and works in Saint Paul. Her passion for combining words and images frequently shows up as fine press broadsides and handmade artist’s books. Her visual work has been in exhibitions regionally and nationally. Her writing has been published in local and regional presses and in Canada. She has an MFA in Writing from Hamline University and a B.A. in English and Art from St. Catherine University.

“The original title of my fellowship project was Mondrian’s Silence. The nine poems I wrote in response to Mondrian’s work became the next title, Mondrian’s Geometry. Then Joseph Cornell entered the mix and we became a threesome. Now my working title is: Juxtaposition: Conversing with Mondrian and Dancing with Cornell. I feel like a medium channeling a collaboration between the three of us; I am the live one in between the two dead guys. We are doing a series of boxes together. Outside they look like a Mondrian neoplastic painting, inside they are reminiscent of a Cornell box. But because I am a book artist and printer, most of the materials are based in the book arts world and there is text inside the boxes. It can be surprising to see what happens when a painter, surrealist and book artist work together.”

Amara Hark-Weber recently completed her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and has past degrees from the London School of Economics and Bard College. She has worked around the world as a documentary writer and photographer, as well as taught classes in documentary photography, oral history, and storytelling. While working toward her MFA, she began making shoes, and is currently exploring the many ways that movement and body language impact our understanding of ourselves and each other through sculptural and performative footwear. She is very grateful for her time here on Earth, and is trying her best to both use it wisely and have fun.

Variations uses traditional techniques of bookmaking, letterpress printing, and shoe construction to build narrative book/shoe objects that can be experienced by reading and/or wearing. The project was exploration of how an object interacts with both our body and our mind. What can be worn? What can be read? How do these discrete experiences affect each other? How might traditional materials and technical practices from two distinct fine crafts be combined to create new hybrid forms of both visceral and cerebral significance?

“To encounter a book is a visceral experience. While the content engages one’s mind, the object itself, the elements of design including typography, printing, paper, binding, scale, weight, etc., Interact physically with our body before we can enter the world of content. The physical nature of the book greatly impacts our experience of reading and understanding content. To encounter a book, especially a handmade book, is a mind-body experience in which the physical nature of the object has equal value to its content.

“The shoe, typically thought of as a utilitarian object used to protect the foot, does far more than just negotiate between our feet and the ground. Shoes impact our encounter with the world by altering how we stand, the cadence of our gate, the sensations felt when walking, and the relative ease with which we are able to move. Shoes affect how we feel as we navigate space and time, altering our engagement with and perception of the world around us.

“As a bookmaker, writer, and letterpress printer, I am interested in both the content of the book, and how the book form itself impacts the communication of information. As a shoe maker, I push the boundaries of what a shoe can be, exploring how various forms can alter one’s psychological experience. The work created through the MCBA/Jerome Fellowship pushed my boundaries as both craftsman and artist. I grew exponentially, and in unexpected ways, deepening my understanding of process, material, concept, and my abilities as a maker and a thinker.”

Lisa Loudon is a mixed media artist living in the Twin Cities. Her work explores ideas of invasion and disintegration. She attended the University of Nebraska where she earned an MFA in painting and drawing. Her work has been exhibited nationally. She is also the recipient of a Jerome Fiber Art Project Grant (2011) and a MCBA/Jerome Book Arts Mentorship (2012). She maintains a studio in Northeast Minneapolis.

Alonso Sierralta‘s work explores the visual relationship created by combining natural and manufactured elements. Sierralta is a native of Chile, and lives and works in Northeast Minneapolis. He earned an MFA from the University of Nebraska, and has received several awards including a Next Step grant through the McKnight Foundation. His work has been featured in numerous national shows and he has been a featured artist on TPT’s Minnesota Original. He has created work for Stevens Point Sculpture Park in Stevens Point, WI, and Silverwood Park in St. Anthony, MN.

“It’s human nature to be fascinated by the demise of our own kind. Our contemporary culture is overflowing with stories and imagery revolving around epidemics, global climate calamities, war and weapons of mass destruction, and of course, the ubiquitous zombie apocalypse. We are not the first civilization to rise and we won’t be the first to disappear. We have created a book-like experience that explores the residue of a lost civilization. Our project is a record of sorts. Fusing ideas of past/contemporary/future and presenting a blurred image reflecting elements of all three, encouraging the viewer to define his/her relationship to the continuum.

“The viewer is invited to enter a long abandoned scientific outpost, and by examining the material left there, come up with a scenario that led to the end of the civilization. The data and material artifacts set up a disjointed narrative intended to give the viewer a glimpse into the trajectory of this invented place. Scientific analysis, fossilized remains, and biological specimens, were interpreted to create a variety of “surviving” physical artifacts, pseudo-scientific samples, and remnants from our imagined society. Through that window the viewer can relate these ideas to our own contemporary civilization and determine what we honor, how we interact with our environment, what we perceive as necessary, and as a result, what unexpected elements we may succumb to.”


Amoreena “Amo” Tarvas grew up in the eclectic town of Duluth, Minnesota. Her earliest memories of drawing consist of copying album cover art from her parents’ extensive collection. She began getting tattoos at eighteen, and quickly became infatuated with the art form. After high school she enrolled at the American Academy of Art in Chicago, and in 2010 earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Illustration. Amo then spent several years teaching at a private art studio before moving to Minneapolis. She currently works as a tattoo artist at Unusual Expressions, interns with printmaker and book artist Richard Stephens, and enjoys taking on freelance illustration work in her spare time.

“Even as tattoos become more widely accepted, there remains a disconnect between tattoo art and the gallery space. This is due in part to the personal and mutable nature of the body as a canvas, as well as the antiquated stigma associated with tattoo culture. Bridging this gap has become a goal of mine over the course of my first year and a half as a tattoo apprentice. My project, “Body of Work” combines tattooing and traditional book-making techniques to convey the dual nature of tattoos as both a public form of expression and an inherently intimate art; the equal of its fine art contemporaries.

“My process began by photographing and interviewing different tattoo collectors about the role that body art plays in their lives. I chose individuals with extensive and stylistically different tattoo work, and deliberately kept my line of questioning open-ended. I hoped to organically find out why people might choose to get tattooed. Though the responses I received were varied, the underlying theme was one of connectivity. My subjects spoke less of the works adorning their bodies and more about their familial ties, their faith, and their personal journeys. The resulting quotes paint a thoughtful portrait of a historically misunderstood subculture. To complement the quotes, I translated my photographs into reductive linocut and photo-polymer plate illustrations. I approached each image as a stand-alone; a unique portraits of the individual I interviewed. My use of line, color, and layering process was altered with each print as a response to the overall persona of my subject and the style of his or her tattoos.

“My book is half-bound in various types of leather which I have tattooed, leading me to the culmination of my project, which will be performative in nature. At the exhibition I will have a space set up at Minnesota Center for Book Arts with my tattoo machine and inks. I will tattoo pieces of leather on site, engaging viewers in a pain-free example of the tattooing process. I hope that this will help to further the transition of tattoo art into a gallery setting, demystifying the process and showing the versatility and beauty of the art form.”

Juror bios:

Librarian and information specialist Kathy Heuer has worked in academic libraries for over twenty years. She was the Reference and Electronic Resources Librarian at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and later was the Library Director at the College of Visual Arts. Both institutions had significant artists’ books collections; working with these collections has given her a deep understanding and appreciation for the work of book artists. She has also served as a juror for the Minnesota Book Artist category for the Minnesota Book Awards, sponsored by the Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library.

Printer and book artist Rachel Melis is an Associate Professor at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University. She received her MFA at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her BA at Grinnell College. Rachel’s recent books use letterpress-printed texts and engraved textures to compare human (particularly women’s) experiences to natural phenomena. Her collaborative broadsides focus on similar themes and celebrate authors who visit central Minnesota, home of Ms. Melis’ press The Greenleaf Line. Her work has been exhibited in solo shows throughout the Midwest and numerous national and international juried exhibitions.

Wilber H. “Chip” Schilling creates fine press books, artists’ books, broadsides and prints, specializing in design, photography, letterpress printing and binding. Since 1992, he has worked under the imprint of Indulgence Press. Schilling earned a BA in history and photography from Clark University and an MFA in book arts and printmaking from The University of the Arts. His work is collected and exhibited internationally. He has been an adjunct faculty member at the College of Visual Arts and the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and taught as a full time lecturer at Columbia College Chicago in the graduate program of the Interdisciplinary Arts Department. His work is featured Masters: Book Arts, 500 Handmade Books, Volumes 1 & 2 and book art object (Codex Foundation). In 2010, Schilling won the Minnesota Book Artist Award.

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