Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Journal & Sketchbook: A special project, and upcoming classes

On the last day of the Journal & Sketchbook class at Columbia College Chicago, which Patty and I taught this past Spring semester, every student was required to read four pages from their final manuscript, and to show a piece of narrative-based visual art that was related in some way to the writing. I blogged about that final day before (click here to see). I kept one set of pictures back, because the project was so outrageous it deserved a post of its own.

Lynn Shapiro, who had already produced a stunning, large accordion book midway through the semester, completely outdid even that effort by bringing in an artist's book that actually folded together to make a small playhouse:


Every surface was covered with intricate, bright collages of paper, fabric, hand-painted elements, and text, relating to journal entries that united her memories of her children growing up and her love for trees:


There are clear references to Matisse there, but also, now I'm looking at it, to the paintings of Robert Kushner, about whom I posted a video the other day. This house-book must have taken a completely mental amount of work, but that's Lynn for you. She never does anything by halves. She very kindly said that she was  pushed to do this -- something she had never attempted before -- by the demands put on her in the class by both Patty and me. Just a few weeks after that Columbia class ended in May, Lynn was with us for the four-day J & S class at Interlochen, so I believe her. Of all the outstanding work brought in by the students in that class, everyone had to acknowledge that Lynn's would have taken the Grand Jury Prize, had we awarded such a thing.

Which brings me to the future. Coming soon at the Shake Rag Alley Arts Center, in Mineral Point, Wisconsin, Patty and I will teach the Journal & Sketchbook class in the morning, and then I will teach an Artist's Book class in the afternoon. The classes will run from Monday, August 8 to Thursday, August 11. All the details are here. Whether you're a writer or an artist  -- and let's face it, most of us are a little bit of both -- you can use this intensive series of classes to heighten the visual sense in your writing, develop your drawing skills, and then combine them both in your own hand-made books. You can do all of this in the beautiful setting of Mineral Point, in a spirit of close camaraderie and collaboration. To get a sense of what that can mean, I refer the right honourable reader to my recent blog posts from Interlochen.

Go on: you know you want to. Just check out the Shake Rag Alley page -- I bet you'll be tempted.

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