Lockhart exhibit rewrites art of bookmaking

Of the many exhibits that have passed through Geneseo 's Lockhart Gallery, located on Main Street, few could have been as succinctly and accurately described in a title as the one that opened last Wednesday: "More Than a Book."

Brought to Geneseo by MaryAnn Miller of the Experimental Printmaking Institute at Lafayette College, the exhibit features a fascinating series of artists' books that are just that - much more than the books we love to get lost in and loathe to stand in line at Sundance Books to buy. Although not all of the books in the exhibit are readable - some do not have any text at all - they are certainly interesting to look at and comprise one of the most striking exhibits that have been displayed at the Lockhart Gallery.

Miller gave a talk at the opening reception on Wednesday, Jan. 23, during which she discussed the process of procuring the collection and described her experience collaborating with the many artists that contributed books. Miller also discussed the history and importance of the book arts and defined the requirements of a piece to be considered an artist's "book;" it should have a cover and some semblance of pages.

The artists that contributed to the exhibit certainly stretched this definition to the limit in their creations, resulting in a collection of books in all different shapes, sizes and compositions. The books are made from all different styles, media, and even different languages, resulting in a collection that is vast and variable.

There are triangular books, books with glass covers, books with spiral pages, books without traditional "pages" at all, books with plant matter, books with photographs, political books, books in boxes, books with cutouts, books with storylines and books with various methods of printing and assembly.

One of the most notable pieces in the exhibit is Curlee Raven Holton's "Birth Book." The piece features a cover that represents a womb and explores birth in a number of interestingly juxtaposed images, diagrams and commentary.

Equally memorable is Megan Amendt's "Degeneration," a book filled with prints of magnified antibodies representing her mother's deterioration due to a degenerative disease. Gary Jurysta's series of hand-colored woodcuts called "Pugilists" is another well crafted and aesthetically intriguing piece not to be missed.

The size and breadth of the collection alone make it impressive, but it is truly the creativity and imagination expressed in each individual piece that makes this collection incredible.

The exhibit runs through Saturday, Feb. 16, and is free and open to the public.