Casey Gardner, whose work is featured in the Reading Room through June 8, is the recipient of the 2012 Gallery Director’s Exhibition Award.
Gardner is a relative newcomer to the artists’ book field, having begun her study in 2006 at the California College of Art and Craft where she studied with Betsy Davids, Julie Chen and Macy Chadwick. Gardner hit the ground running and has been the recipient of several awards, her work held in dozens of private and publication collections throughout the US. She brings to her personal playing field a varied history, including downhill ski racing, extensive travel (supported by a variety of jobs, such as working in book stores), and a long stint in journalism. She now supports her book arts habit with work as a graphic designer at C+O Design.
Books, Printing and Process includes copies of all of her letterpress printed book editions to date, including her very first A Brief Encounter with Etiquette. Three of the ten books on display have garnered awards (Body of Inquiry, 2nd place SanDiego Book Arts Competition; I Wondered What it Might Ignite, Stephen Corey Award, Pacific Center for Book Arts and Why Go, Beyond Question, Winner of California College of the Arts Book Arts Award). In 2012 she was given the University of Washington’s Emerging Artist Award.
During Casey’s visit last week, I reveled in the chance to learn more about her multi-layered process. I learned, for example, that the spark for Body of Inquiry came decades before she had any inkling that she would enter the book arts field . While working as bookkeeper at a community school, she met and was enchanted by Edmund Scientific’s Torso Woman. She bought a Torso Woman of her own and carried it with her from that point forward. A version Torso Woman now lives front and center in Body of Inquiry – in Gardner’s version, she holds a codex that tells the story of a scientific journey inspired by her Edmund models.
Casey has generously put on display various project notes, models and maquettes for her three most recent projects, Threshold, Body of Inquiry and HereSay (a collaboration with Nancy O’Banion). So although gallery visitors won’t have a chance to be charmed by Casey ‘in the flesh’ they will at least have a glimpse of the processes that take a small pencil sketch through multiple models and iterations and results in the finished Body of Inquiry.
Another maquette, for Threshold, shows how Casey works out the writing for her artists’ books. The maquette is accompanied by a hand-written note that states:
This maquette of Threshold shows a good example of HOW I write. In write in space. I don’t really begin to put words down until I know the context they will live in. Then I get all my ideas into that space and see how they feel and look and get along, and I distill and root around for the right words and clarify until I understand what it is I am trying to say. It’s a geographical process for me. I realize now why Journalism didn’t quite suite me: because all the words were always in columns.
Regarding process Casey states:
When I see the drafts and tentative models I have made for a project, I am curiously reassured. I see that though there isn’t a map to follow, eventually I arrive at my destination, and along the way, I visit regions never imagined. It is liberating to see the vast veering and experimentation as I search for a way to convey my ideas in book form.
In my work, I pursue pathways that may lead nowhere. Yet, as I try various trajectories, I experiment with the capabilities of materials, the evocations of form, the moods of language, and the interactions of color. This process distills my vision and tells me in tiny increments, where I am going in the work.
There are words everywhere on my drafts: notes to myself and questions about the story, the content, movement, sequence & desires. Language offers many divergent paths of meaning; its abstract and concrete qualities suggest borderlines to explore. My work is often instigated by the mutability of language+interpretation in various spatial contexts and frames of reference.
As I work, I search with uncertainty for some envisioned, yet unknown territory. This is why I make art — for the discoveries that occur amidst the journey of making. In my work, I desire to leave space for the reader to make their own discoveries.
Also on view are prints from Body of Inquiry, Threshold and HereSay. Click here for a partial listing of available works. Other works are available; please contact the gallery for details.