Feb 23, 2014


Book art has been one of my favorite methods of capturing /containing / combining ideas, materials and techniques within the confines of a smallish structure. I love creating huipil books, such as these two just completed for HUIPILES CONTEMPORANEOS in Oaxaca next month.
EPHEMERA, handmade huipil book
pages from EPHEMERA
pages from EPHEMERA

Sometimes, I like to simply choose an old book with an interesting title, and use that to inspire the theme. Filling it with collage, photo transfer, paint, writing, etc. it becomes more than the book that was sitting there unread, damaged by moisture or neglect. Here's one that started out with a title I liked, but when I began working in it, I changed the theme to reflect a poem I'd read by Delmira Agustini, titled "Nocturna." Her voice and her life were silenced at the age of 27, and she left us with some sensual yet deeply haunting poetry.

pages from NOCTURNO
NOCTURNO, altered book

pages from NOCTURNO

Other handmade or altered books from the past includes these and more:

pages from WITNESS, a carousel book, 2001

SOL Y LUNA fold-out, pop-up book from a cigar box, 2005

One advantage of traveling with my art, as I've been doing this month with an exhibition at the Museo Ixchel, is meeting new people and making new connections within a community. Thanks to my friend Judy Sadlier in Antigua, I'm fortunate to meet more and more new friends each time I come.  This trip, she and her friends invited me to present another workshop. The last one, in October, was a huipil-making workshop,(seen here in a previous blogpost titled WOMEN'S WORK.)  This time, however, I decided to teach altered books instead of contemporary huipils. 

The location of the workshop, which happened last Thursday and Friday, was one fantastic site: the open-air restaurant at the Vivero Escalonia. 

Escalonia gardens

Situated on the grounds of a large nursery, it includes gardens, fountains, sculptures, tiendas offering everything from skin products to artesania, healthy breakfast and lunch choices and wi-fi.

Artmaking in the covered patio.

And if that isn't enough, so many covered patios that we were able to secure one of them to do our work. And work we did, if you can call it that, but we don't of course. We call it play and as you can see, it's serious fun. 

Thank you to Judy, Ellen, Irene, Letty and Tova, for joining me in this workshop, I applaud your courageous creativity, bold enthusiasm and genuine love of experiment. I believe you made those sad old books very happy.


"At first I worried that I wouldn't be able to come up with ideas, but once I let my mind relax and opened it to all the possibilities that the materials offered, the ideas and the work flowed along. Allowing myself the freedom to change a page, recreate it, was very liberating. Lena is so helpful with suggestions, and I love her style of teaching."  - Irene

"Before this workshop, it had never occurred to me to alter a book, but once I got started it was great fun. Lena had so many good ideas to inspire us, and although I didn't finish the project in two days, I feel I can do it now on my own." - Ellen

"The workshop really opened a path for me, altering poetry books and poet's biographies. When I came home, I found a biography of Walt Whitman, can't wait to start." - Letty

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