As October – or National Book Month as celebrated by the National Book Foundation – continues, a new exhibition showcases five USF alumni who use books and other types of print for their visual narratives.
The Marshall Student Center (MSC) Centre Gallery’s new collection “BookMarks,” which ends Friday, uses text, pages and even actual books in its artwork.
All five artists currently teach at Ringling College of Art and Design, and according to an artists’ statement in a press release, “each of us is an educator in the Tampa Bay area, thus helping our students develop their own narratives.”
Colorful chapters of each narrative decorate the walls, hang from the ceiling and stand as table displays in the room’s center to tell stories from five artists – Joseph Loccisano, Wendy Dickinson, Patrick Lindhardt, Dee Hood and Steven Strenk.
Using the first American flag flown on the moon by Apollo 11 as inspiration, Loccisano’s series composes a unique narrative titled “Black Flag on the Moon.”
By means of lithography, laser print and other printing methods, Loccisano details the tension between the U.S. and Russia during the space race to the moon.
A metal stencil with two skulls was a repeating image throughout his seven-part series. In one part, Loccisano recycled the stencil for the cover of a small book he stuffed with Fiberfrax – a material used to insulate spacecrafts.
“This idea tells the story of space exploration,” Loccisano said. “After an explosion, examination of the materials of the spacecraft (is) used to help tell the story behind the spacecraft’s malfunction.”
On the wall next to Loccisano’s work is a narrative from Dickinson titled, “Fire and Ice I, II, III.”
Inspired by the Robert Frost poem “Fire and Ice,” Dickinson’s series uses three brightly colored dresses that texturally deceive the eye into thinking they are lace. Instead, they are Dickinson’s actual handmade paper prints with Frost’s poem imprinted in the bottom of each dress.
Steve Yancar, a senior majoring in fine arts, said the piece was an example of the “more than meets the eye” principle in artwork.
“Dickinson’s dresses have a really contemporary look,” Yancar said. “They seem to encourage the viewer to look closer to the image because the poems are infused into each of the dresses.”
Hood, Lindhardt and Strenk chose to tell their stories through a different medium than this framed work.
Hanging from the ceiling almost like a lifeless body, Hood offers audiences a visually appealing story eerily titled “In Her Bones.”
Strenk’s piece remained crafted onto the pages of a book, but rather than making audiences read through lengthy pages of words, he decided to create a pop-up book called “Steven Makes Pictures A Pop-up Adventure.”
Centre Gallery’s Director of Public Relations and artist Katia Selli said she admired how Strenk and the other artists used traditional books in non-traditional creations.
“I really appreciated the pop-up book because it’s fun and childlike, but shows so much skill and intelligence because it’s handmade and interactive.”
Tiny wooden monotypes on a small table, large prints hanging on the wall and an unfilled, pageless wooden book frame greeting guests at the door were displays of Lindhardt’s works – all motivated by telling family tales.
Lindhardt said his life’s path has alternated between written words and fine art, but his interest in telling stories remained constant.
“After a bad experience with a high school art teacher, I began college as a writing major,” Lindhardt said. “I wanted to tell stories. But after a positive experience in a print class at USF, I graduated with a bachelor’s in fine arts – but through my work, I am still telling stories like I wanted to.”
Centre Gallery is located in MSC 2700 and is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information on the gallery, go to ctr.usf.edu/gallery.