Artist Paula Beardell Krieg makes works-on-paper and teaches book arts.
Contact at email@example.com
Bookmaking entered my life in the early1980′s. I had just earned my BFA in NYC at The School of Visual Arts in NYC, quit my waitressing job in Jersey City, then traveled a bit. Soon I landed in an old warehouse space in the as yet ungentrified Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. Constructing walls, installing plumbing, and bringing in heat and electricity kept me and my workspace crowded into a corner about the size of my bed. For a while, then, I was drawn away from working on large works-on-paper, and space-intensive sculptural works. Making books, which were small but expandable, fit right in with the square footage of my life.
My inital books creations were labor intensive and materially substandard. I knew how to work with paper, but creating a binding was a different matter altogether. Knowing nothing about adhesives, I habitually glued my precious pages together using toxic, non-permanent, highly acidic paper cement. I had no clue about sewing bindings in such a way that they would actually stay snug.
The Center of Book Arts had already made its debut in the Bowery section of lower Manhattan. Thankfully, it was not long before someone pointed me in its direction. Early mentors included Barbara Mauriello and Hedi Kyle. Barbara taught the first 12-week class that I signed up for, and Hedi taught the next one. It was here that I had the good fortune of meeting artists Mindell Dubansky and Susan Share. Mindell and Susan approached bookmaking with superb craftmanship, joined with artistic brilliance and whimsy. Susan had already begun wearing and metamorphosing books in art performances. She would build book structures in such dramatic and surprising ways that, even when she wasn’t manipulating them in performance, they seemed to be in motion. With influences like these, it was easy to become enchanted with the book arts.
In the mid 1980′s I had the opportunity to work with Franklin Furnace Archives. This hip arts organization had initiated an Artist-in-Residence program in NYC schools. I was placed in classrooms with pre-schoolers and early elementary children on the downtown waterfront as well as with students in Chinatown, many of whom barely understood English. It was here that it became obvious to me that both the children and the teachers loved learning simple bookmaking techniques. It was also clear that bringing this mode of expression into the schools was challenging but thoroughly joyous for me. Soon I began teaching classes for educators. Over the years I have worked with many thousands of children, and many hundreds of teachers. The excitement this work gives me has never subsided.
In the mid 1990′s my husband and I relocated north of Albany, NY, where we now live with our 16 chickens, 2 guinea pigs, a feral cat and our two teenage children. I feel tremendously lucky that I have been able to remain consistently active teaching book arts here in upstate New York as well as points south. The focus in this site will be to share the projects that I have done with students in the past, as well as to document the progress of work that I am currently developing in schools. My hope is that these pages can become a useful resource for people interested in a playful approach to bookmaking.