Librarians and book lovers will find a lot to like in Matteawan Gallery's new exhibition "booksmart," though it may be a bit of a shock at first to those who still appreciate the printed word. That's because the exhibit, featuring work by Theresa Gooby, Brece Honeycutt, Björn Meyer-Ebrecht, and August Ventimiglia, involves some mutilated and cutup book covers.
While the artists may not have always followed Library rules, they certainly meant no disrespect to the print medium. In this digital age, books seem to be increasingly replaced by content on phones and laptops, yet there remains something very enduring about a traditional book. They evoke memories , and carry all sorts of associations and meanings, both personal and cultural. Each of the artists in this exhibition uses books in very different ways; however, a sense of memory and reverence for the book as an object of knowledge and discovery underpins all of the works.
The books in Theresa Gooby’s wall sculptures are encased in wax and most of the covers have been removed, leaving the titles and authors anonymous. Brece Honeycutt makes her own books by dyeing paper with plants and other materials found around her studio in western Massachusetts. Sheets of paper are folded and interleaved with flowers, leaves, and metal pieces, then bundled and tied up with metal graters or clamped with binder clips. Bjorn Meyer-Ebrecht’s sculptures are composed of found architecture and art history books. In his book cover works, the pages of a book are removed, and the cover is cut into pieces, reassembled, and mounted flat on the wall. August Ventimiglia’s works are composed of the pages of books in which text has been underlined. Part collage and part drawing, the underlined passages are cut from the page but the text is left out. Each of the artists's work will be meaningful to anyone who has fond memories of books and reading. The exhibit runs until August 31, with an opening reception tonight at 6pm.