Susan Joy Share likes to play dress-up with paper. Onstage, to varied musical accompaniment, she drapes book-like constructions over and around her body like a tutu, then a bandolier, then a head wrap and a prayer shawl; she spreads them across the floor or fans origami slinkies through the air, the paper pieces whooshing and clicking as she dances and puts them through their paces. Boxes within boxes unfold and morph into architectures and landscapes of dazzling colors. This is her Animated Library.
The serendipitously named artist also likes to dress up books and book-like sculptures, chopping and channeling them into unexpected shapes, out of unexpected materials -- ceramic, textiles, found objects. Her fetishes, puppets, accordions, screens, brushes, masks, and spiked fans burst with a stunning array of color.
Starting tomorrow night and over the next several days, Share will perform, lead workshops, and give a talk at the Jaffe Center for Book Arts. It's the latest in the string of offerings from the center, a unique cultural treasure in the main library of FAU's Boca Raton campus. Her work will remain on display there through mid-January.
A New York State native and a former Brooklynite, now based in Anchorage, Alaska, Share's work is labor-intensive. The paper pieces emerge through a long, painstaking process of painting, folding, cutting, binding, sewing, and punching. Her hands are strong. There is a tribal quality to many pieces, the patterns, colors, and materials echoing those of traditional handcrafts. Share has taught at (among other places) North Carolina's Penland School of Crafts and Maine's Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, centers of craft as high art.
A graduate of the ceramics program at Alfred University (a mecca of that medium), Share told New TImes she "remains very much a 3-D person." Deeply immersed in her expansive vision of book arts, she literally is physically immersed in her objects when she takes to the stage and moves with them through time. "4-D" seems appropriate.
Friday's performance is a solo piece, but you can see a group work of Share's from 2000 below. (Share has spent a good deal of time instructing children in book arts, and for those who care, and as this video illustrates, her performances are very kid-friendly.)
Susan Joy Share: "Animated Library" performance. 7 p.m. Friday, October 18, at FAU's University Theatre, Building 18, Schmidt College of Arts & Letters, Boca Raton. Admission is self-determined. Suggested fee is $18 per person. Free for FAU Students.
"Sculptural Books: Combining Structures" (
workshops SOLD OUT), on October 19 and 20; gallery talk: Tuesday, October 22, 5:30 p.m. Contact the Arthur & Mata Jaffe Center for Book Arts
Wimberly Library, Room 350 East, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton. Call 561-297-0226.
A selection of Share's work will be on display in the open areas of all three
floors of the Wimberly Library and in the building's Room 350 - The Jaffe Center - through January 19.
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