Karen Hanmer

Artists' Books & Installation


Works in Dublin exhibit beg to be handled
The Columbus Dispatch
June 2, 2005

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Children are often warned that the art in a museum is not to be touched.

With a new exhibit, however, the Dublin Arts Council begs to differ: The pieces by book artist Karen Hanmer are meant to be felt.

“All Shook Up: Playful Books,” on view through July 23, is full of interactive volumes.

A display so finger-friendly suits adults, too, said Jessica Fagan, council spokeswoman.

“You can turn the pages and read them,” she said.

Hanmer built the books unconventionally.

Treasures, for example, was created with rustling paper to evoke a drawer of treasures.

The book is bound on the left and right sides to simulate such a holder, encouraging the act of reaching inside. (And visitors shouldn't be deterred by the white gloves provided.)

Among the other works, “Several of her books happen to be based on song lyrics,” Fagan said.

The council keeps a compact-disc player handy—for young and old—to present the songs that match the books.

To drive home the welcoming atmosphere, Fagan said, the council has created a clever guide, which asks children to answer the question “What is a book?”

In the Hanmer exhibit, a book might look like a game board—as in Famopily—or more like a puzzle.

The artist often uses “flag” books, in which the pages have flaps sticking in various directions.

The guide includes instructions on how to make such books.

By Michelle Lemmonfor the Columbus Dispatch