Stories pairs handmade artist books by Elena Bouvier and bottled drawings by Len Cowgill. Their work is intimate — visualizations of openness and containment. Both artists tell stories in a poetic visual shorthand that encourages an imaginative shared experience.
I came to book arts the long way around, through photography.
This makes perfect sense to me; we photographers make a book-like form every time we assemble a portfolio or construct a wedding album. Pace, sequence and narrative are at the root of the product. But the one thing that has always bothered me about the completed portfolio or album is the lack of permission to touch the image, the paper it was printed on, the emulsion used. Heaven forbid we leave a fingerprint.
Books, on the other hand, have no such taboo. They are designed to be held, carried and curled up with. They are intimate, transportable and tactile vessels of potential.
The books here are more fun and friendly than they are heavy and laden with meaning. They are explorations of material, structure and process with minimal content, born from the seduction of dimension and movement possible with an artist book. Photographs are usually flat, so to make something to hold, that moves and expands, is exciting. I am equally smitten with paper--the way it folds or doesn’t, takes ink or not. Its weight, its drape, its color and texture. Tactile. Touch-able. Portable.
My work is about containment. I explore some facet of the human condition and box it or put it in a bottle. I create a stage for the drawing and invite the audience to get close, look at and touch it. Sometimes the drawings are in the form of puppets and the viewer may tug the strings and make them jump. I put music boxes that the viewer can crank on some pieces, or I’ll mount the drawing on a turntable so it will spin. The important part is that the experience is shared, that a story has been told... perhaps not the story I had in mind.