Creative Research: The Artistsí Books of Veronika Schäpers, Robbin Ami Silverberg
and Julie Chen


Julie Chen



Julie Chen

Julie Chen is an internationally known book artist who has been publishing limited edition artistsí books under the Flying Fish Press imprint for over 30 years. Her books combine text and image with innovative book structures to create reading experiences that engage the reader in interactions that go far beyond the simple turning of a page. Her work can be found in numerous collections worldwide, including the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and the Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland, NZ. In 2009 she was a featured artist in the PBS television series Craft in America, and in the 2020 documentary film, The Bookmakers. She was the Director of the Book Art Program at Mills College in Oakland, California and held the Lovelace Family Chair in Book Art. She is currently a Professor of Art at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.



Julie Chen

Julie Chen
Wayfinding
Berkeley, 2019

Letterpress printed using pressure printing and photopolymer plates on handmade abaca paper from the Morgan Paper Conservatory and Hahnemuhle Bugra paper.

9 x 16 x 4.5 inches when closed, opening to a full width of 41 inches.
Edition of 50 copies.

Julie Chen

Wayfinding examines the relationship between physical and mental learning through the context of navigation through time and space. The piece focuses the readerís experience on the physicality of the book as object with the inclusion of three-dimensional cast paper panels and pages that rattle when turned, all housed in a series of shallow boxes that are hinged together in layers. The inclusion of a three-dimensional alphabet abstracted from diagrams of flag semaphore addresses the activities of signaling, translation and gesture, highlighting how information is taken in by all the senses and not just through the eyes.
Julie Chen
Research is a central component of my art practice. Content for my artistís books combines material and structural research on the craft of bookmaking with cultural and personal research that informs my development of text and image. My work engages the viewer through an immersive experience of the book as art object: I consider the artistís book as a self-performative art form which gives meaning to the readerís experience through integrated interactions with creative writing, visual design, deliberate use of materials and innovative sculptural forms such as pages that move in unexpected ways.

The impetus to do research stems from a deep curiosity about the world around me and a desire to find meaning in everyday experiences. I find the artistís book to be the perfect medium to meld various streams of research into a unified whole.

- Julie Chen

Julie Chen

Julie Chen
Panorama
Berkeley, 2008

Letterpress printed using pressure printing wood blocks and photopolymer plates.

Box size: 10.25 x 20.625 x 2 inches.
Book size: 9.5 x 20.25 x 1.25 inches opening to a full width of 60 inches.
Edition of 100 copies.

Julie Chen

Panorama explores the issue of climate change from an artistís perspective, simultaneously expressing hope and helplessness in the face of this growing crisis. Opening to a full width of five feet, Panorama engulfs the reader/viewer in an experience both moving and surprising with large format pop-ups and interactive folded sections that interlace personal thought with facts indicating a more universal reality. Layered imagery captures the poignant beauty of our rapidly changing landscape.

Julie Chen




Julie Chen

Julie Chen
The Accretion of Identity
Berkeley, 2022

Letterpress printed using pressure printing and photopolymer plates on handmade abaca paper from the Morgan Conservatory, and a variety of Japanese papers. The book structure is a Chinese thread book (zhen xian bao). It contains four levels of folded boxes housed in a box with a magnetic closure.

5.375 x 9.625 x 1.625 inches when closed, opening to a full width of 24.5 inches.
Edition of 30 copies.

Julie Chen

The Accretion of Identity explores various ways in which individual identity is developed. We might assume that identity is largely self-determined, but many factors, some easily discernible and others hidden from view, go into the process of defining who we are. The persona we embrace as our own is not solely made up of conscious choices but is instead a constant process of adaptation to our surroundings. For people of color there is an added layer of external expectations and assumptions that must be confronted. Family, community, and everyday interactions with strangers all influence our continually evolving sense of self in both overt and subtle ways.

I took my own identity for granted as a somewhat finished process until the pandemic changed almost everything about everyday life. In this new environment, could I continue to be the exact same person that I was before? Pandemic times forced me to consider my sense of self with fresh eyes and to notice how tightly the past and the present are inextricably intertwined.




Julie Chen

Julie Chen
Chrysalis
Berkeley, 2014

Letterpress printed using pressure printing and photopolymer plates on paper from Cave Paper and La Papeterie Saint-Armand; laser cut elements.

Box: 6.75 x 11.75 x 6.625 inches.
Book object: 7 x 11 x 7 inches, opening to 11.5 x 18 inches.
Edition of 50 copies

Julie Chen

Chrysalis is an interpretation of the complex and transformative nature of the process of grief. The piece consists of a sculptural book object housed in a box. The book object is held together by a series of magnets and can be opened by the viewer until all the panels lie in a flat plane, revealing an inner book with circular pages that can be held in the hand and read.

Julie Chen

The unfamiliar experience of opening a sculptural form, which itself contains visual and written content, to reveal a hidden book within is meant to evoke the disorienting experience of grief in which the familiar is suddenly rendered strange by a radical change of circumstances.




Julie Chen

Julie Chen
Bon Bon Mots
Berkeley, 1998

Letterpress printed from photopolymer plates. Book structures are: Turkish map fold, magic wallet, flag book, rotating ring, and puzzle box.

Box: 10 x 7 x 1.75 inches.
Edition of 100 copies.

Julie Chen

Bon Bon Mots investigates the ways in which form can influence experience. As a lifelong candy lover, I was intrigued by the idea of creating a set of books that referenced a candy box. I know from personal experience that I will eat every piece of candy in a box, even the ones I donít like. The visual and written narratives in this set of books have outward appearances suggesting fun and whimsy but present content that is surprisingly sad. The irresistibility of the format encourages the reader to stay engaged until the last book is read.

 Veronika Schäpers

 Robbin Ami Silverberg

 Julie Chen



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