LEWISTON – From a 6- by 8-foot suspended kite, 40-inch photographs and a 7-foot embroidered wall piece to a string of books each less than 1-inch high and some tiny paper bees, the new exhibit at the Atrium Art Gallery is a study in scale and imagination.

The ingenious works are by 17 artists who teach at the University of Southern Maine’s Book Arts at Stone House summer program. They are exhibiting work in their particular fields, including photography, textiles and needle arts, book binding, printmaking and calligraphy.

The exhibit, “Reading,Writing, and Defining,” includes artists’ books that are folded, woven, reconfigured, stitched and suspended from the ceiling. It opens Friday, April 25, with a free reception from 6 to 8 p.m. at the USM Lewiston-Auburn College Atrium Art Gallery, 51 Westminster St.

“Art in books is ancient,” writes Richard H.F. Lindemann, director of the George J. Mitchell department of special collections and archives at the Bowdoin College Library, in the exhibition essay.

“Book arts in the Occidental tradition – crafts such as fine printing and bookbinding, printmaking, papermaking and marbling – find antecedents in the High Middle Ages and the Renaissance,” he continued. “But books-as-art first finds its voice in the mid-20th century. Artists’ books, defined simply as art objects that reference book-reading or book structure, began as a nonconformist anti-establishment movement.”

Today, book arts are considered one of the most innovative and exciting of the visual arts fields.

Artists in the exhibition are Karen Adrienne of Gardiner; Crystal Cawley, Portland; Luc Demers, Falmouth; Rebecca Goodale, Portland; Mary Howe, Stonington; Sherrill Hunnibell, Whitefield; Judy LaBrasca, Falmouth; Nancy Leavitt, Stillwater; Rose Marasco, Portland; Scott Mullenberg, Biddeford; Jan Owen, Belfast; Barbara Putnam, Deer Isle; Bernie Vinzani, Whiting; Susan Webster, Deer Isle; Anastasia Weigle, Biddeford; David Wolfe, Portland; and Henry Wolyniec, Portland.

The USM Book Arts Institute is held at USM’s Stone House in Freeport and is open to students of all levels. The weeklong summer institute brings together well-known book artists with participants interested in exploring the artist’s book as a form of expression. Topics include star books, books with moveable parts, paste papers, calligraphy, traditional book binding, screen printing and other techniques.

Rebecca Goodale, one of Maine’s most creative artist in the book arts field, is director of the institute.

The exhibition runs through June 14. Gallery hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday; and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday; closed holidays.

For more information, visit www.usm.maine.edu/summer/special/bookart/.

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