Al-Mutanabbi and Book Artist Scott McCarney

The Art of the Book opened here at the Central Library on October 21, 2012. There was a great reception and we had a great turnout.  Of course the best part were the artists books and altered books on display. A full post on that exhibit will be coming.

Along with the artists and altered books exhibit is a display by book artist Scott McCarney.  His book  Material Meditation on Mending Al Mutanabbi Street, is a commemoration of  Al-Mutanabi Street  in Iraq, that was destroyed by a bomb on March 5, 2007.

Before being bombed, Al-Mutanabbi Street was a place for to find books and a place for readers, writers, artists, and a place for all in pursuit of culture. His artist book commemorates the attack, the victims, and the survivors. You can view images from his book  in the library’s Link Gallery.

Scott McCarney, Rochester, NY, USA, April 2012
Material Meditation on Mending Al Mutanabbi Street consists of fifteen two-sided loose-leaf prints made from collages constructed from remnants of found books, rubbings from book bindings and photographs. The leaves are gathered into a tar paper folder, like scattered pages picked up in the street and slipped into a convenient sheath. The fragments, assembled with staples, tapes, and glue, attempt to speak to reconstruction as well as memory; of life, literature and culture suspended, disjointed and reassembled into some sense of a whole.

8.5 x 11 inches; 15 loose-leaf pages, digitally printed, housed in tar paper folder

Below are some images from Scott’s book
Material Meditation on Mending Al-Mutanabbi Street

Scott McCarney is an artist, designer, and educator based in Rochester, New York. His primary art practice has been in book form since 1980, combining an academic background in photography and design with a love for the corporeality of craft and philosophic possibilities of sculpture. His works are widely distributed and can be found in library collections at MoMA New York, V&A London and Yale University, among others. His work is shown near (Hallwalls, Buffalo; Everson Museum, Syracuse) and far (Sao Paulo, Brazil; Melbourne, Australia; Budapest, Hungary). He currently teaches in the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences at Rochester Institute of Technology.

Book Artists Commemorate Al-Mutanabbi

Project website in Boston  

Al-Mutanabbi Street is the centuries-old center of bookselling in Baghdad, a winding street filled with bookstores and outdoor book stalls. Named after the famed 10th Century classical Arab poet, Al- Mutanabbi, this street has been, since time immemorial, the historic heart and soul of the Baghdad literary and intellectual community.” On March 5, 2007 a bomb exploded on Al-Mutanabbi Street killing 30 and wounding 100.

To mark the anniversary of the bombing and the essential role that art plays in our lives, poet Beau Beausoleil and others have organized readings in 10 cities. These readings are part of a much larger project that Beausoleil and a dedicated group of artists and volunteers have worked on since 2007. Read more at the Huntington Post.

On July 2010, Beau Beausoleil put out a call for book artists to join ‘An Inventory Of Al-Mutanabbi Street’, a project to “re-assemble” some of the “inventory” of the reading material that was lost in the car bombing of al-Mutanabbi Street on 5th March 2007. We joined in with Beau that month, to co-curate the call to artists to join our project and further enhance the previous work of the Coalition by honouring al-Mutanabbi Street, through creating work that holds both “memory and future,” exactly what was lost that day.

Beausoleil also reached out to artists to create books that would hold both “memory and future” of the bombing. There are 261 books that have been created as part of the project. More at the Huffington Post.

More information at the Jaffe Center for Book Arts.

At the Art of the Book exhibit you will see some of the book art created for Al-Mutanabbi  by Rochester book artist, Scott McCarney. Read more below and click on the image for exhibit information.

On October 21, 2012, the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County will host the second exhibit of Art of the Book. Included in this exhibit will be a book by Rochester book artist, Scott McCarney in memory of those who lost their lives at Al-Mutanabbi Street. Entitled Material Meditation on Mending Al Mutanabbi Street, his book consists of fifteen two-sided loose-leaf prints made from collages constructed from remnants of found books, rubbings from book bindings and photographs. The leaves are gathered into a tar paper folder, like scattered pages picked up in the street and slipped into a convenient sheath. The fragments, assembled with staples, tapes, and glue, attempt to speak to reconstruction as well as memory; of life, literature and culture suspended, disjointed and reassembled into some sense of a whole.

Sue Huggins Leopard is another book artist who’s work will be seen commemorating  Al-Mutanabbi. Her book is entitled, ElegiesElegies uses part of a poem titled Elegy on the death of the mother of Saif al Daula, written by al-Mutanabbi in the year 948. Although written by the great poet in an age seemingly vanished and separated from the car bombing on al-Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad by more than a thousand years, the words remain very moving and speak powerfully to the universal themes of mourning and the futility of violence. I echoed these lines with words by an imagined poet in 2007. A poet who I imagined might be like a young person who would frequent a street of booksellers. A poet with a potential to see beauty; to speak.

Book artist, Barbara Fox will also have her book shown. That Day On Al Mutanabbi Street 2012, is a collection of digital images and poetry on various papers. It is printed in English using Lithos Pro, and in Arabic the font is Baghdad. 4 inches high by 6 inches wide. Digital Images on Various Papers. You can see more her work on her website, Barbara Fox.

Al-Mutanabbi is also commemorated by local artist printmaker, Kristine Bouyoucos. Her book folds out with
twenty-eight shadow people in the pages, one for each killed. Their names appear on the back of each page. The last page has a reddish background to remind us of the more than a hundred wounded.

Read and see more at the Centre for Fine Print Research. Find more information and images here at An Inventory of Al-Mutanabbi Street.

What is Fore-Edge Book Painting?

Altered books and artist books are mediums many artists are working in today but many are not creating fore-edge paintings on books.  Fore-edge painting requires a good aptitude for painting as a scene is painted on the edges of the book’s pages.

Fore-edge painting is done two different ways. The first includes painting on edges that have been fanned and the second on edges that are closed.  The first method requires the book edge to be fanned to see the painting and in the second the painting is on the closed edge. Either way, the result is a beautiful miniature work of art.

It’s too bad  there is not much published on this fascinating method of painting but you can read about it and see it on the web site at the Rare Books Department of the Boston Public Library. This website highlights a special collection of more than 200 high-resolution images of fore-edge paintings.

Featured Works section provides additional information about selected books, including detail shots and a video of the book as it is fanned to display the hidden artwork. Anywhere on the site, you may click on an image to view a larger version. A series of articles written by leading experts in the field, provide historical and curatorial insight into fore-edge painting.

Read more about fore-edge painting here.

A gallery of fore-edge book images on flickr.

The Crystallized Books of Alexis Arnold



Came across this yesterday. Sculptor and installation artist Alexis Arnold explores the visual manifestations of time and memory upon objects. Using Borax crystals and paperback books, Arnold transforms ordinary reading material into beautiful and mysterious masses of mineral matter. She says, “The crystal growth highlights or creates the aesthetics of these once-utilitarian objects that are entering the world of obsolescence, as well as acts to suggest past narratives and post-human futures laden with nostalgia, wonder, and the interminable progression of time.”
More about her work here.


Art of the Book at the Central Library


Art of the Book 2012 Call for Entries

 The Rochester Public Library is looking for book artists to participate in a juried exhibition “The Art of the Book” which will be on display at the Central Library Sunday October 21, through December 10, 2012.

 Artists 18 and older who would like enter the show are invited to submit digital photos of their work no later than July 27, 2012.

 Click here for a copy of the prospectus and entry forms. This is a juried show and there is a $10 entry fee for the first piece and a $5.00 for each piece after that. Artists may submit up to 3 entries. Entries must fall into the following categories: artist books, and altered books.

Cash prizes will be awarded in the following categories:

  • Best of Show – $200
  • 1st  Place Artist Book – $100
  • 1st  Place Altered Book – $100
  • 2 nd Place prizes – $50 for Artist Book and Altered Book categories

The book is an enduring symbol of knowledge and freedom, two basic components of all public libraries in the world. During the last 100 years, books have played a significant role in world history, recording not only the history itself, but also inciting history making events and keeping people informed of what transpires in the world around them.

Check out these websites for some inspiration:

Getting Started With Altered Books

For more information contact Sally Snow at 585-428-8051.

Art of the Book Exhibit at the Central Library

The exhibit runs from October 21, through December 4, 2011. This juried show brings together 39 book artists who have demonstrated how books can become a piece of art.  The pieces range from the very large altered book as shown by Scott McCarney’s eight foot hanging piece, “Hanging Index #20: Last Lines of Poetry,” to books as illustration work, books as a timepiece and books in boxes. The show presents three categories of book arts; artist books, in which the artist creates and entire book, including bindings and illustrations. 

Scott McCarney of Rochester has won first place in the Altered Book Category and was named Best of Show for his piece “Hanging Index #20: Last Lines of Poetry.”

Candace Hicks of Athens, Texas took first place in the Artist’s Books Category for her “Common Threads Vol. XXVI.”

Ashley Billings of Rochester took first place in the Illustration Category with “Ivory Novel Keys.”

Some other pieces in the show:




There are other wonderful books to be viewed. Come to the Central Library’s Bausch and Lomb Building to see more.

To read more about book arts and altered books view these websites and these books at the Central Library.

Altered Books

The Center for the Book Arts

Genesee Center for the Arts

Minnesota Center for the Book Arts

Visual Studies Workshop

Western New York Book Arts Collaborative

Women’s Studio Workshop