"Down the Spine" Exhibit Showcases the Art and Craft of the Book

March 13, 2012

The exhibit " DOWN THE SPINE: The Art and Craft of the Book in Central

Illinois" opened at the Contemporary Art Center, in Peoria Illinois, and

runs from March 10th through April 6th. It features work by several Bradley

faculty, alumni and graduate students.


Curated by Robert Rowe, Professor of Art at Bradley University, "Down the

Spine" takes an expansive view of the art and craft of the book as it

showcases new and traditional approaches to a cherished and enduring art



Artist represented in the exhibit are:

Nicole Blackburn

Peter Bushell

Andrea Ernest

Andrew Huot

Steve Kostell

Becky Krohe

Elizabeth Linn

Kevin McGuire

Bea Nettles

Joe Richey

Meda Rives

Veda Rives

Robert Rowe

Todd Williams

Charles Wisseman

Sarah Zaleski


Works range from traditional fine leather binding to experimental sculptural

pieces that incorporate text and symbols. One one side of the gallery is a

gossamer installation of hanging paper sheets by Meda and Veda Rives; to the

other extreme is a finely-engineered 6-foot rotating machined metal piece

that rotates in multiple dimension, replete with symbols and figures telling

a life story. In all of the instances in this show, there are elements

traceable to the history of the book as it has come down to us.


Books are about bonds that connect people. In 2010, a group of Peoria

artists and designers met at the Prairie Center of the Arts in Peoria and

formed a book and print collaborative. The group immediately embarked

upon the collaborative endeavor that is in the exhibit, titled The

Frankenstein Coffer - each member contributing to the whole. The group holds

weekly open studio sessions and has offered instructional classes in

bookbinding and letterpress printing.


The nature of books evokes sanctuary and protection of things that have

value. In a time when so much is designed for immediate consumption and

obsolescence, books evoke a sense of reverence for experience. The works

here tell stories, stories that span a lifetime or just a sunny afternoon.

The stories are in the words and images, but also in the very material

itself, such the book done in conjunction with the the Combat Paper project,

that works with returning war veterans, using material from their uniforms

to make paper and print their stories.


The recent surge in interest in book arts has fueled the expansion of

collaborative groups in many communities and through this exhibition we are

reaching out to connect with the artists and makers of books along the

Interstate 74 corridor across the state. The real glue and thread that binds

this show is the common desire of those who share their love of making and

experiencing books, who teach and attend workshops, and preserve and advance

the art of the book for all of us.




A full set of images of works in the show and of the opening may be viewed