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ART BEAT: Libraries, Hudgens Center collaborate with altered books

The Gwinnett Public Library will be celebrating "Love Your Library Week" from April 11 to 17, and the second Altered Book Competition will be a part of the festivities.

An altered book is a book that has been recycled by creative means into a work of art.

The new buzz word is "repurposed" for those who want to keep up with the correct jargon, and these repurposed books will be on display in an exhibition at the Hudgens Center from April 27 through May 27. Entries may be submitted at any of the 14 Gwinnett Library branches through April 10, so potential participants need to get busy.

First of all, library books are not to be used or harmed in any way. Books to be altered into art can be books that are slated for recycling or old books from one's own collection that might be sacrificed for the sake of creativity. Books can be cut, refolded or rebound for artistic effect. Glue, paint, collage, rubber stamping and cut/tear techniques can all be used. Embellishments such as beads, game pieces and photography can be added.

Altered book art can also combine several types of artistic techniques into one unique art form. Starting with a book base, the artist tears away pages and then adds his or her own creative expressions through use of the above materials or by creating new ones.

Judging the contest will be Stephanie Smith, founding president of the Atlanta Printmakers Studio and a professor at University of West Georgia. Also judging is Robert Andrews, fine arts director for Gwinnett County Public Schools.

Contest guidelines are simple. Beside not using library books, any creative technique is acceptable, and the entries must be delivered to a Gwinnett Library branch by April 10. Branch locations can be found online at www.gwinnettpl.org.

There are two categories. One is for adults 18 and older. The second is for students in grades six through 12. There will be winners in each category who will receive a $100 gift card donated by Georgia Federal Credit Union, a certificate and a ribbon. Second and third place in each division will receive a certificate and a ribbon.

After the exhibition at the Hudgens Center is over, artists can retrieve their altered book artwork at the original branch where it was submitted.

"The altered book artwork that was submitted last year was amazing," said Nancy Stanbery-Kellam, Gwinnett County Public Library's executive director. "We really enjoy seeing how creative people can be with old books."

How does one get started creating an altered book? Amazingly, there are a number of resources to offer inspiration and examples of altered book art. The Gwinnett Public Library has books on the subject, and there are some wonderful Web sites, such as www.alteredbookartists.com and www.creativity-portal.com.

Past winners of the Altered Book Contest created such things as a wall-art montage using found objects related to the subject of the book. Another created a mantel clock using a book as the body of the clock and attaching a base as well as clockworks and found items with artistic flair.

For more information about the contest, e-mail Sue Calbreath with the Gwinnett Library System at scalbreath@gwinnettpl.org or visit the Gwinnett Library System's main Web site at www.gwinnettpl.org.

Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. E-mail her at hcalmes@mindspring.com.