Digital Exhibits - UWM Libraries Special Collections
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Resources for Process/Media

Kyoung Ae Cho has made an amazing use of Hough's Encyclopaedia of American Woods (1957). This sixteen-volume set contains thin slices of wood mounted between folded pages. Characteristics of the wood slice can be observed by holding an individual page up to the light where the translucent nature of the slices reveal the grain. In a process that Cho described as having a ceremonial quality, she patiently sliced a veneer from a single piece of wood that could allow consideration of all nature. The slice of wood was then cut into small squares reminiscent of fabric for miniature quilts and the grain of the wood was enhanced by burning "dots" along the grain lines. Those lines were seen by Cho as a celebration of life-something to be cherished in all of nature. The tiny squares were then meticulously enclosed between two layers of sheer, white fabric with lines of fine stitching in white thread. Once completed, the "quilt" was mounted and framed with unfinished wood. Many find Cho's work consistent with the attention to detail, use of nature, and formal composition qualities found in other Asian art forms. However, Cho revealed that as a student in Korea her work was described as western in feel. She went on to explain that since arriving in the United States1988 to complete an MFA at Cranbook, she has been drawn to the exploration of Asian theology that permeates her thoughts.

As noted in the first section, Valerie Christell requested a two-volume collection of sketches by Francisco Goya as a way to inform her rendering of images. These resources also informed her use of media and process. There is a definite connection between media and process in Goya's sketches of landscapes despite the fact that for Goya they serve as a background to human interactions rather than as the focus of the work itself. As I recall my first experience of Christell's drawings, the space seemed to be ready for a ceremony that would invite human interactions-not the violence of Goya's experiences, but a gathering for peace and reconciliation.

Pam Schermer's use of Valente's Nature Morte del Seicento e Del Settecento extended to an analysis of the way the paint was put down on canvas by Baroque artists. Using color photocopies as a reference in her studio, Schermer not only studied paint application but also the compositions of the earlier paintings. Through her studies she sought to wed her love of the history of painting with current artistic expressions in order to invite the viewer to revisit nature through a synthesized perspective.

For Darlene Hagopian, it was not images she sought in Special Collections, but a process to organize those she already had. Her desire to present issues of human rights and the need to save the planet resulted in her amassing an overwhelming number of images. Poring over book after book led to artist's block, until she realized that it was the idea of visual overload itself that most intrigued her. The artist's book she created for the project became a record of the moment between research and production as a state of confusion. In an effort to organize materials, Max Yela suggested a 1998 publication by Australian filmmaker, Peter Greenaway entitled 100 Allegories to Represent the World, a modern day emblem book. Double- spread pages are organized with illustrations and limited text around a theme. In Greenaway's book allegorical figures are presented full-page on the right-hand side with a smaller collection of illustrations on the left-hand side arranged like cards for a Tarot reading.

While Hagopian's presentation is not as orderly as Greenaway's, it is the very disorder of images that evokes the state of confusion she wished to represent. The small size of the book adds a sense that this is a preliminary venture into a new project that has evolved from pages and pages of research. In fact, when I questioned where she saw herself going in the future she admitted she wanted to narrow her concerns, create a new book with better paper, solve construction problems, and reformat the whole project.

Steven Krueger was drawn to his religious heritage in the creation of an artist's book and reliquaries. He used Special Collections as a resource for the process/media in his book depicting selected Catholic saints. One such source was a book of saints attributed to the Benedictine Monks of St. Augustine's Abbey dated 1677. Each page has an elaborate and detailed etching as well as a sentence or two about the saint. Simplifying the illustrations, Krueger used a rubber printing "plate" to create stamps with emblems for his saints that suggest each saint's role as patron. As noted above in reference to Darlene Hagopian's organization of images, the resource for Steve Krueger's emblem book layout was Greenaway's 100 Allegories to Represent the World. Facing each illustration is a page of text explaining who the saint is. The layout is justified to reflect the same-sized space as the "emblem." Each double spread of emblem and text is reflected in a separate reliquary object. For example, Saint Paula is the patron saint of widows and her emblem is a calla lily. The text identifies the saint, while the reliquary holds the fine black veil worn by his grandmother at his grandfather's funeral.

We have seen how artists not only used images from Special Collections for both information and appropriation of images, but also to influence their use of media and processes. While the use of selected texts for their content seems similar to the first category, I believe there is a subtle difference.