Karen Hanmer

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Title: The Model Architect: The Panic of ’09

The Model Architect: The Panic of ’09

The Model Architect: The Panic of ’09

The Model Architect: The Panic of ’09 | 2010 | $800

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Pigment inkjet prints, calf spine, leather label, title and tooling in gold foil, red acrylic ink edges. Marbled paper by Iris Nevins.

14x11x.5”

edition of 30, 48 pages

The Model Architect: The Panic Of ’09 is based on The Model Architect, Samuel Sloan’s 1852 collection of house plans and instructions to contractors. The new work pairs historical text and illustrations from Sloan’s work with contemporary text from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s online Guide to Avoiding Foreclosure. The colophon provides commentary by the artist, noting the effects of speculation and financial collapse in her own neighborhood.

The book is bound using the drum leaf structure, but is evocative of a mid 19th century binding in its use of materials and decorative elements: leather spine, marbled paper, decorated edge, gold tooling and titling. The large page size mirrors that of Sloan’s work. The Model Architect: The Panic Of ’09 is one of six winners of the Building by the Book competition sponsored Philadelphia Athenaeum and Philadelphia Center for the Book.

From the colophon:

Samuel Sloan’s The Model Architect was published at the mid point of a century marked by cycles of rampant speculation followed by financial collapse. The Panic of 1857 came on the heels of publication of Sloan’s work, and put a halt to the most active portion of his career.

This milieu mirrors what has happened in my own neighborhood of modest homes over the past fifteen years. The transformation began with some owners remodeling their kitchen, or adding a family room or bedroom. Then larger additions came. Ultimately, the houses commanded high prices to be sold as teardowns. Huge new houses were built in their places.

The construction proceeded with increasingly grandiose features; portions of the facade faced with thin sheets of stone, wooden garage doors with cast iron-like fittings, decorative copper accents on the roofs, turrets, lions flanking the brick driveways.

Now the house across the street, the house next door, and the house next door to that are all in foreclosure, and soon will be uninhabitable. The lawns grow without interruption. Without electricity and heat the basements fill with water, the pipes burst, the mechanicals are destroyed. Few modest, affordable homes remain in the neighborhood.

 

Karen Hanmer is one of the most sophisticated and dynamic book artists working in the United States today. Her newest work, The Model Architect: the Panic of ‘09, reminds us that what is old can be new again, sometimes in surprising ways. Her deft combination of text and illustrations from Samuel Sloan’s The Model Architect (1852) with excerpts from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s online Guide to Avoiding Foreclosure, shows how elements of history can repeat themselves. Sloan, whose successful career as an architect was adversely affected by the financial collapse in 1857 (The Panic of 1857), provides us with a good example of how historical cycles repeat themselves. Hanmer’s book is part political commentary and part homage to Sloan’s original work. Bound using a drum leaf structure and with a large page format that mirrors Sloan’s original work, The Model Architect refers back to mid 19th century binding in its use of materials and decorative elements. Beautiful to look at, the book nonetheless playfully subverts its role as facsimile by reminding us that we cannot take anything for granted and that what has happened before will happen again, and again….

Robert Gore, Visual Arts Librarian, UCLA Arts Library

 

The transition from the detailed, architectural drawings and descriptions to the foreclosue verbage was jarring. It was like I was taking a nice stroll on a warm day in the park when all of a sudden I fell in a cold pond.

Nick Paldrmic, investment portfolio manager