Studio Proof: "On The Page"

Jesse Tigges, Columbus Alive

When an exhibit combining two of my favorite interests, art and books, comes across my radar, I'm immediately fascinated. So when the Ohio Craft Museum announced its current exhibition, "On the Page" - through Aug. 23 - I was compelled to check it out as soon as possible.

Stepping into the Craft Museum - a building designated to all things craft- and design- oriented - I was immediately met with a sense of excitement. Any doubt I'd had about "On the Page" not living up to my expectations was quickly dismissed once I saw the wondrous and captivating catalogue of pieces on display.

"On the Page" consists of art - nearly all three-dimensional - inspired by books from artists in Ohio and across the country. This could be a direct transformation of the material (see Daniel Lai or Zena Zipporah's pieces), a nontraditional book rendering (Suzanne Silver's "Blacklists/Whitelists" is a good example), a presentation focusing on the words that begat a book (the collaboration by Aminah Robinson and Lucille Clifton) or a categorically avant-garde approach (multiple pieces by Dolph Smith, Will Karp and Rebecca Harvey).

"On the Page" is a collection best described as utterly unrestrained and almost otherworldly. Many of these pieces will entrance and bewilder the viewer. I was often left asking myself, "How did the artist come up with this idea, and how did they make it work?"

By make it work, I don't just mean how a specific artist expressed an encompassing theme through an unconventional approach - which there is plenty of in "On the Page." No, I'm referring to the pieces that move, come apart or change through interaction. Not all of the pieces in this exhibit are open to hands-on manipulation, but many are (while wearing the provided white gloves adjacent to those pieces).

It's here that one could spend hours thinking about and tinkering around with these works. Some pieces have tiny, hidden books inside for the viewer to find. Others move and transform or speak new ideas. Many will confound simply in their construction.