- Associated Press - Sunday, June 22, 2014

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - Forget everything you think you know about books.

Stories can be told in many different ways, and the first-ever exhibit of “Books As Art” by the Northwoods Book Art Guild presents an exhibit hall filled with books created in new and exciting ways.

“People tend to think books are just something you open and read from,” said Corlis Taylor, one of the exhibit organizers from the guild. “When you think in broader terms, this is what you get.”

Those broader terms mean art books can be made out of paper, metal, even marble. There’s a book of clay, books in the form of scrolls and books that are tiny. There are 130 pieces in the exhibit at the Bear Gallery at Pioneer Park. Some were created by experienced book makers. Others were made by first-timers. All of them are quite remarkable and most unusual.

This is not a new art form, but it is rapidly growing in popularity.

“Books can come in all kinds of forms,” Taylor said. “It’s just a vessel for putting words to paper.”

This is the first exhibition in Alaska dedicated to exploring the art of the book. The wide spectrum of approaches to book making include traditional binding techniques, innovative book structures, collaborative book projects and book objects.

The books were submitted in several different categories, including Creative Use of Fiber, Glass, Birch, Metal, Clay, Wood, Fabric, Boreal Resources or Altered Book. Other categories include the creative challenges of Response to Poetry, Music or Vintage Book. The exhibit also honored artists with the Design Award, Alaska Award and Nature/Environment Award. Glen Simpson was the juror.

Some books have no bindings at all, but the ones that do use bindings, include everything from traditional binding, coptic binding, and long stitch binding. Each is unique. There are “altered books,” old books that have been turned into new books, in ways only the artist could imagine.

In the middle of the exhibit hall, a small display shows all the tools needed to make a book. There is paper, glue, brushes, fabric and other tools.

“This gives you a sense of what it takes to make a book,” Taylor said

The show was planned for about 18 months and includes a catalog, a DVD highlighting each piece, and a special section of student works. That is important, say organizers, for sustainability.

“These are our future bookmakers,” said Margo Klass, well-known Fairbanks bookmaker.

Artists are included from Fairbanks, Delta Junction, Cordova, Anchorage, Nome and Valdez. Included in the exhibit is a model of a larger piece that will be constructed at the new North Pole Library for the 1 percent for art program, by artist Mark Fejes.

Elmer E. Rasmuson Library is beginning an artist book collection and made a purchase for its collection from this exhibit.

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