New Exhibit: Utopia/Dystopia: Inspiration and the Artist Book

Introduction from exhibit curator, Sue Sommers:

Welcome to the Laramie County Library’s annual invitational exhibit Inspiration and the Artist Book, where 2017’s Utopia/Dystopia is a reflection upon the Summer Reading Celebration theme, Build a Better World. I am honored and delighted to be this year’s guest curator.

The sixteen artists from Wyoming, Nebraska, Illinois, Florida, Ohio, New York, Virginia, and France use the book form as a starting point to explore ideas of perfection and failure. The need to imagine a better world, and to conjure nightmares of a much worse one, thrives in nearly all of us, maybe because as human beings we must have hope, but also caution, to survive.

These twin impulses – dreaming of improvement and watching out for danger – exercise our imaginations all the time, not just when we are deep in a Star Trek movie or Hunger Games book. They help us navigate environments as basic as the grocery store and as complex as our highest goals in life.

In this exhibit, you will find pieces that propose alternative ideas about books, as they also propose alternative ideas about perfect or terrible worlds. You will find books that look like fossils, shrines, maps, sculpture, painting, and more. Some are traditional, familiar-looking books that reward close inspection. We have also selected works for you to touch and handle at designated locations in the library.

The ability to imagine alternatives is the root of the creative process. This imaginative power is in everyone, and it’s one reason you are standing here, looking at a wildly creative book art exhibit in your library. I hope you enjoy spending time with the artwork, considering the artists’ choices, and discovering your own alternatives.

Each artist has written a statement about their work, in order for you to gain insight into the story their book tells. Click on the artist’s name below and you’ll find images of their work, their statement and biography.

Enjoy the exhibit!

Nathan Abel Kerry McAleer-Keeler
Cristy Anspach Conor Mullen
Jenny Dowd Mark Ritchie
Jessica Drenk Miriam Schaer
Camellia El-Antably Ellen Sheffield
Karen Hanmer Tawni Shuler
Nyla Hurley Patricia Smith
Karen Kunc Sue Sommers