The Whitney Houston Biennial: The All Women Biennial


March 19-29, 2017

325 West Broadway, NY



March 19 from 4-8 PM


The Huffington Post:

Silence Unbound: The Artist's Lexicon in the Making

The Center for Book Arts, NY, NY

January 17, 2014 - March 29, 2014

Photographs from the opening, January 17, 2014

Flatiron News, March 2014

Center for Book Arts Exhibit Showcases Sublime Symmetry of Books

Center for Book Arts Exhibit Showcases Sublime Symmetry of Books
Kristin Travagline
March 20, 2014

The Center for Book Arts is a hidden New York City gem. Located in Chelsea, a stone’s throw away from the Flatiron District at 28 West 27th Street, the Center is discreetly tucked away on the 3rd floor where the intimate studio, store, and gallery quietly thrum with staff and visitors. The main exhibition now on display, Silence Unbound: The Artist’s Lexicon in the Making, runs through March 29th and features artists who have incorporated their works into book-like designs.

Center for Books: “Silence Unbound: The Artist’s Lexicon in the Making”

– Photo Credit: Kristin Travagline


Visitors are invited to flip through several of these pieces, which makes for a satisfyingly visceral experience. One such piece is “40 Books,” (2012) by Kristen Tordella-Williams. “40 Books” includes nine laser-etched woodblock prints on handmade paper, displayed on a maple shelf, with the wood blocks serving as the book covers. Holding the thick slabs of wood in your hands literally gives weight to the words and images in the books. One wooden block is covered with etched words that you can run your fingers over. The combination of textures adds another element of beauty and the grain of the wood compliments the grainy patterns evident in the prints. The handmade paper, slightly thicker than typical paper, is also grainy with pinkish beige and warm brown flecks. One of the books has a handprint, the subtle lines and curves of which make the print quite intimate. Next to the hand, the text reads “Made in U.S.A. Printed in U.S.A.”

CFB 40 Books 1

“40 Books” (2012) by Kristen Tordella Williams – Photo Credit: Kristin Travagline


Another featured piece, “Historias Intimas (Intimate Stories),” by Jessica Lagunas first came to be when the artist asked her grandmother to describe the first time that she menstruated. Her grandmother was too embarrassed to tell her, so instead she wrote her a letter. During 2009, Lagunas received 25 letters from her female family members, each describing her own intimate menstrual experience. The letters are bound with red ribbon and arranged in a red clamshell box next to the red hand-made book that Lagunas crafted and which contains typed versions of the letters. The book, with elegant red ribbon running through the spine, was bound at The Center for Books Arts in 2011.


"Historias Intimas (Intimate Stories)" - Photo Credit: Kristin Travagline

“Historias Intimas (Intimate Stories)” (2009 – 2011) by Jessica Lagunas

– Photo Credit: Kristin Travagline


Also included in the exhibition is work by artist Barbara Rosenthal, who lived in the Flatiron District for 25 years. Since she was 11 years old, Rosenthal has kept more than 70 journals, 12 of which are on display, with both text and drawings. Rosenthal’s collection of 41 electrostatic prints “Homo Futurus Wall Work” (1986) spans a wall of the exhibition and features a wide array of text, news articles and photos, some as controversial as “Boy Raised by Wolves in Indian Jungle” and “Infant was Raped.” Rosenthal works within the fields of surrealism and existentialism and is known for using herself to explore what it means to be human. A book accompanies the wall work in the exhibition. Rosenthal will deliver an artist talk at The Center for Book Arts on Friday, March 28th at 6:30 p.m. along with Dean Ebben, another artist featured in Silence Unbound.


CFB Homo Futurus 2

Barbara Rosenthal Journal – Photo Credit: Kristin Travagline


Whether or not you can make it to the reading, strolling through the gallery makes for a relaxing afternoon. Silence Unbound was organized by Heather Powell. Other featured artists include David Hammons, Candace Hicks, Christopher K. Ho, Jenny Holzer, Alison Knowles, Matthew C. Lange, Dani Leventhal, Buzz Spector, and Emily Speed.

NY Arts Magazine, March 2014

The Journal Art of Barbara Rosenthal

Having begun creating them when she was 11, Barbara Rosenthal has a formidable collection of Journals.
Having begun creating them when she was 11, Barbara Rosenthal has a formidable collection of Journals.
This month, the Center for Book Arts is displaying 12 of the 72 volumes of Journals I’ve kept since age 11 in 1959, along with my 1986 book Homo Futurus and the Homo Futurus wall work as part of “Silence Unbound” curated by Heather Powell. The Journals had been something I kept parallel to my work, which is predominantly camera-based. But, in 1979, Alex Harsley of the Fourth Street Photo Gallery offered me a show and asked what else I did.

When he saw the Journals, he suggested I create a book. That first book, Clues to Myself, 1981, and three subsequent ones: Sensations, 1984; Homo Futurus, 1986; and Soul & Psyche, 1998, were all published by Joan Lyons at Visual Studies Workshop Press. A fifth, Cold Turkey at the Dog Run, will be published by Joseph Quintela and Katie Peyton at Deadly Chaps Press later this year. They all contain edited journal-text, Surreal Photography, and elements from the outer world.

-4BR Journal2010March14-2All the books and Journals depict a re-visitation of pages and texts to hone ideas and use as arenas upon which texts and images are placed in graphic and emotive relationships, rather than a linear one. This was first pointed out to me by Martha Wilson in her curatorial “The Page as Alternative Space‚” at Franklin Furnace in 1982, when she hung pages from Clues to Myself. This use of the surface is true for all my books and wall art, too.

The Journals themselves, however (which I capitalize as a project), didn’t become of interest until 2010. I’d had a few shows of Existential Video and Surreal Photography in Berlin, and in discussions after, I was often asked how I got ideas. During one such talk at Lettrétage: Das junge Literaturhaus, Tom Bresemann invited me back to do a show called “Das Tagebuch gibt mir Ideen,” (The Journal Gives Me Ideas). Then, with some variation, I reprised that presentation in 2011 at Maddy Rosenbeg’s artspace, Central Booking, in New York, and in 2013 at Metro Arts in Brisbane, Australia. The Journal pages you are looking at now, from various volumes, show how ideas for artworks stem directly from life experience. Thinking about events of the day give rise to insights which inspire the works.


The pages here from Homo Futurus are from the particular volume I do readings from. You can see the bookmarks, pencil changes, and highlighted text portions I read. I almost always tweak when I see things I’ve “completed” before. For me, it seems, nothing is ever finished, and this aspect of continual evolution, continually striving for perfection, is one of my themes.

All my themes, such as time, space, and motion, are seen in the context of identity. I don’t mean confined investigations, such as “ethnicity” or “gender,” but rather a search along the extremities; what I am as a single individual, and what the species Homo sapiens is as a whole. In 1984, I had the idea that our next hominid would be genetically engineered, and that’s when I coined the term “Homo Futurus.” For the book, I used the material from my Journals and Archives as an individual, plus items from the news, to glean what might be engineered in, and out, of that next creature.

The cover indicates that Homo Futurus is a book within a book, and comprises photographs. Those on the cover appear within. They are from the Surreal Photography project, and reflect my visions of instability borne out by text, reflecting the world-view developed via journal-keeping, of everything in constant motion and metanoia.

By Barbara Rosenthal

Iron Organism

Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY

November 9, 2012 – January 27, 2013

Oki Fukunaga
Oki Fukunaga

Iron and the cast iron process are very active. The material is brittle, stubborn, and rigid but can be altered. It naturally rusts and changes over time and with the conditions of the environment, but remains solid. It is a risky process, yet it is a comfortable place for those dedicated to the practice. Usually associated with industry, a unique group of artists have adopted and redefined the material. Imbibing it with an innovative purpose and a changed aesthetic, they have embraced these dualistic qualities as part of their personal artistic language.


Artists working in iron transform remnants into powerful intimate statements. The process requires a constant engagement with the material though various states, much like the nurturing of a creative idea. The process has strong roots in a do-it-yourself approach. It takes a coming together of people to choreograph the process. Iron Organism and the Nor’easter Conference present a forum for the exchange of ideas around aesthetics and the investigation of the art of working with iron. It brings into question the conventional notions of beauty, and the source and treatment of individual and collective creative expression.


The works featured in this exhibition embrace narrative concepts and abstract representations as well as process. Expressed through the combination of materials such as iron, bronze, wood, stone, and fabric, the work embodies the activity of the space between the periphery and core, observer and collaborator, touchable and elusive. The artist’s choice of subject matter juxtaposed with the organic molding and manipulation of materials fosters an exchange that serves as a strong physical metaphor for the artist’s drive to bridge the central domain of the imagination and the vast matter of the universe.




Carl Billingsley

Kurt Dyrhaug

Oki Fukunaga

Cynthia Handel

Justine Johnson

Gavin Kenyon

Elizabeth Kronfield

Coral Penelope Lambert

James Lentz

Elena Lourenco

Mary Bates Neubauer

Kenneth Payne

Wayne Potratz

Vaughn Randall

John Ruppert

Aaran Schmidt

Virginia Tyler

Jay Wholley


Bound By Silence

SUNY Cortland, Cortland, NY March 12 - April 6, 2012

Bound By Silence Invitation
Bound By Silence Invitation

 By what means and methods do artists create a personal and unique language? To invent and comprehend it, accumulate an inventory of words and phrases to narrate their insight, and insert those words into a larger public dialogue is an effort to speak about their private expression and to give a voice to what is not expected to be spoken, yet, must be talked about. Artists, through the complexity of their process, defy the natural evolution of language and follow a more abstract style. Conjured from the imagination is an impalpable vision formed and shaped with the mind’s matter; embellished with memories, scabbed together with feeling, and infused with facts. This perspicaciousness is brought into being and speculatively measured in an attempt to gauge if it has achieved in actuality that which has been hoped for. Personal language is developed through a rigorous course in lexicography; constructed systems of verbs, organized glossaries of sensations, and catalogued records of details. Ultimately devised, extensive and long-term, for one’s own edification.


The artists featured in Bound by Silence often work in familiar forms but have at some point been driven to create or conceive of an object that incorporates their language into a book-like design.   The juxtaposition of the book next to an artwork, painting, print, photograph or performance ephemera, is meant to delineate a space that considers the translation of the artist’s aesthetic vocabulary into writing systems. It concentrates on associations, and the source and treatment of artistic language. Some of these artists have assembled their content from critical techniques, biographical information, and elements of fiction, as well as asemic styles of communicating. All of these works are a record of the artist’s private life- poetic and imaginative, careful and exact, revelatory and explicit.


Through the interpretation of symbols and cryptic messages to the reading of subtle clues and elucidated meaning, this exhibition is the disconcerting and consoling silence that we are sometimes met with when we dare to utter our deepest realities, perverse compulsions, or forbidden inclinations. It is also the satisfaction that we obtain when we have accurately named that which we are compelled to speak about. These objects are an investigation of invented languages, re-appropriated statements, and authentic trends that present a distinction between secrecy and disclosure, the overt and veiled, the indescribable and expressible.


These works, an examination of the relationship between the visual elements and literary devices at play, emphasize the correlation between meaning and metaphor. They were selected based on three criteria: the approach to craft tradition and the conceptual motivation, the source of the content, and the materiality of the language. The purpose is to trace the heritage of these components back to the artist’s overall practice and to question the ways in which the information is being transmitted and consumed.


The socially constructed nature of language requires that a text-based work be approached as a dialogue between the maker and the viewer. Some artists have employed normative grammar through the use of narrative or fiction, while others have taken an experimental approach through lists or stream-of-consciousness. The meaning deferred, obscured, or enhanced through the symbiotic bond that takes place between the schematics of the limited visual field. Others abandon the use of structural elements of design and take on an unplanned or performative-style of writing. The language is a record of a particular experience and the substance is cemented in the action. Each work is presented as a space where various hints of activity join.


Artists featured in the exhibit include:


Dean Ebben

Jennifer Grimyser

Candace Hicks

Christopher K. Ho

Alison Knowles

Jessica Lagunas

Dani Leventhal

Barbara Rosenthal

Buzz Spector

Emily Speed


Works from the SUNY Cortland permanent collection include:


Carl Andre

John Baldassari

Peter Barnett

Jenny Holzer

Barbara Kruger

Edda Renouf

Ed Ruscha

Linn Underhill 


Bound By Silence catalog cover
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Bound By Silence catalog inside spread
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Working Bibliography for Bound By Silence.

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