Sunday, June 17, 2007

Books For Nobel Peace Center Exhibition

Curators at the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo Norway were in need of a solution: How could the results of international art programs featuring artworks from around the globe be displayed in a unique tactile way, with no available wall space? Someone on the conference call had a suggestion: "How about In books!" I instantly imagined how such books could appear, and I asked to design and create them. Three books were going to be necessary to accommodate the needs of the curators and coordinators of the projects and I suddenly found myself deep in a new creative world with a ticking deadline.

The books were intended for "The Global Room" at the Peace Center, where visitors could examine artwork samples from children in China, Nepal, America, and many other countries and cultures. My first feeling was that the books needed to be attractive to visitors so that they would be picked up and opened! I decided to use metal tooling for the covers of each book.

Metal tooling has roots in Mexico, being used in the decorative arts. I also saw this art form being utilized in northern India. 36 gauge tooling foil was used, which is easy to incise and cut.
I first assembled the housing structure of the three books, choosing linen as the binding cloth. I then began working on the metal features.

(clicking on these images will open detailed enlargements in a new window).

The first book was to contain examples from the project I personally coordinated, called " Peace prints". The project consisted of elements of block printing, culminating in the creation of many large, eight foot panels with participants prints covering each surface like hieroglyphics. The primary educational component of the project was "global warming" and many symbols of life and nature in various global environments were used.

I created the cover of the book based upon this imagery, incorporating it into the designs.
Ice cap shrinking and drought is affecting life sustaining habitats, and the imagery reflects the artwork inside. The polar bear and the giraffe motifs are part of the larger panel project.

This book was created entirely by me, freehand, over the course of a few hours.

Every line must be precise as it is etched into the surface. They may not be removed.

The second book shown below was created to showcase nearly one hundred sets of "footprints" decorated by children from around the world, illustrating their views and perceived ideals on the environment. One child's artwork is framed on the front cover, while I enlisted children from Los Angeles to create the embossed designs that adorn the back and inner panels. They transfered the designs into the metal, using blunt sticks.

The interiors of the books also contain lavish decoration relating to the artwork and themes.

The stylized sun design played a big role in unifying the three books, and also played a key role in the "Peace Prints " project. The design below adorned the front of an over-sized portfolio containing award winning children's artwork. It was etched into a heavier gauge brass metal sheet riveted onto the cover.

The three completed books looked really magical and enticing. The whole process was very exciting for me, and this was probably the first time I have ever put so much effort into such a "decorative" art form. I love intimate art books and really fell in love with the whole experience. Getting away from my usual painting process felt liberating. When I paint, I tend to use big shapes and glazes. The approach to metal tooling involves line and linear design, elements I enjoyed in my early days as a pen and ink artist. I was honored to create these books in conjunction with the United Nations Environmental Programme, and pleased to hear the news that the display is currently being well received at The Nobel Peace Center.