Monday, July 06, 2015

Between the Lines: Art of Altered Books

by Zinta Aistars
for WMUK 102.1 FM
Southwest Michigan's NPR affiliate

Between the Lines is my weekly radio show about books and writers with a Michigan connection. It airs every Tuesday at 7:50 a.m., 11:55 a.m., and 4:20 p.m. (or listen anytime online), on WMUK 102.1 FM, Southwest Michigan's NPR affiliate. I am the host of Between the Lines.

This week's guest: Katie Platte and Lorrie Grainger Abdo

Lorrie Grainger Abdo, left, and Katie Platte, right, holding altered books

As children, we're taught to treat books with respect. Don’t write in the margins. Don’t fold down the corners of pages. Don’t break the spines. But what about altering a book into another form of art?

Retired books get a new life in an art exhibit called Altered Books—Altered Worlds at the Kalamazoo Book Arts Center, 326 W. Kalamazoo Avenue, in the Park Trades Center building. The exhibit runs concurrently with Adaptation: Transforming Books into Art at the Kalamazoo Institute of Art. Both exhibits are open to the public through July 31.

“The exhibit at KBAC shows more local artists, emerging as well as established,” says Katie Platte, KBAC's studio manager. “Whereas the Kalamazoo Institute of Art is showing the work of internationally known artists.”
Lorrie Grainger Abdo, KBAC's administrative director as well as participating artist, says the term "altered book" refers to an old book recreated by adding mixed media techniques and changing its form. These transformed books burst at the seams with added fabrics, collages, buttons and beads, drawings, and paintings. Ribbons curl from between pages and new pages fold out from their tucked-in places. Pop-ups and pockets might be add, holding treasure. Pages might be singed or cut or drilled or torn. No rules apply.
“Some of the books are the creations of individual artists,” says Grainger Abdo. “Others are round-robin books, and they're passed from one artist to another, with each artist adding to a few pages before passing the book on to the next person.”
Yet others have ...

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