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Older work

This is a show of altered books I made at the College of Saint Benedict's Clemens Library in 2011. Titled How Not to Open a Book, this body of work is about systems that offer certainty and how we use them to focus on isolated parts more than the big picture. 


The show’s centerpiece, How Not to Open a Globe, is a trunk that can’t keep safe, secret & separate its contents—words related to natural resources mined from the “G” volumes of two encyclopedias.  Similarly, the rest of the books spill their guts with unforeseen consequences. I split a 1920s “visualized book of answers” into framed sections to suggest that “classified and simplified” approaches to knowledge create tunnel vision.


In the tall cabinet are housekeeping manuals you may touch to reveal the randomness (and toxicity) of “success guaranteed” information. Above them, four housewives spell “help” with handkerchiefs in flag semaphore (an international maritime code).

Finally, I highlighted how a study guide focuses on fear and indigestion, a writing guide emphasizes sound (tap the typewriter keys to make your own), and the popular How to Win Friends & Influence People promotes self-critique. In each instance, literal adherence to advice endangers one’s ability to hear more. As stated by editor Isaac F. Marcosson in How to Win Friends, many “have been so much concerned with what they are going to say next that they do not keep their ears open.”


As a whole, these old books combine nostalgia with critique in order to provoke questions about current certainties.


In 2012 I installed another show at another library.  Expanding the Home Circle featured my fine press book Unsexed & Unsphered, which reprinted and illustrated two texts by Caroline Kirkland, a nineteenth century feminist/realist writer included in the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Cairns Collection of Women's Authors.  I curated this exhibition for the UW's Special Collections Library.  I used their beautiful display cabinets to pair my work with the books and ephemera that I had studied to create it while at the UW on a Friends of the Library Grant-in-Aid Fellowship in the summer of 2007.  You can read more about the exhibition at

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