Campus News

Artist's Books Exhibit at Library Depicts Maine's "Threatened and Endangered"

Betula, a flag book by Rebecca Goodale, depicts catkins fluttering among birch leaves. Photo: Luc Demers.

Story posted September 22, 2004

The exhibition Threatened and Endangered: Artist's Books Created by Rebecca Goodale is currently on view at Bowdoin College's Hawthorne-Longfellow Library. Exhibited items appear in the library's second floor display gallery and in the 3rd floor Department of Special Collections.

The exhibition of artist's books - artworks conceived of by the artist in book form - focuses on Goodale's long-term project of making books about the plants and animals on Maine's Endangered and Threatened Species lists.

"I want to inspire sensitivity for these rare species by using my background in book arts and textile design to interpret what I see with color, pattern, rhythm, and transition," says Goodale in the artist's statement included in the exhibition catalog.

Four Maine Butterflies. Photo: Ed Wald.

Goodale began the project in 2000, and the show features most of her creations since then - 29 items are on display, combining silkscreen, painting techniques and cutouts with a variety of book structures. The result is a colorful assembly of paper sculptures and other three-dimensional objects that relocate the book form as artwork.

Among the works included in the exhibition:

  • Four Maine Butterflies, four silkscreen printed folios with hand-painted pop-ups that hover over the pages, illuminating the fragile beauty of the natural world.
  • Black Racer, a fold book of hand-colored silkscreen prints, which makes the endangered snake's slithering movement and propensity to hide three dimensional.
  • Vernal Pool, a theater book, constructed so that when the side panels are pulled apart, like curtains on a stage, the illustration of a dried up wintertime pool springs back to life.
  • Extinct; Extirpated; Endangered, a set of three rotating rings charting a history of plant and animal disappearance. Because the flexagons are filled with materials that rattle, the book is able to illustrate the decline of a species by how loud, soft, or non-existent the rattling is.
  • Eggs, an accordion book that unfolds to reveal a phalanx of speckled specimens of different sizes, shapes, and colors.

Threatened and Endangered runs through December 15, and is open daily during regular library hours (Monday-Saturday 8:30 a.m.-11 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m.-11 p.m.).

Several public programs at Bowdoin have been planned in connection with the exhibition.

On Thursday, October 21, at 4 p.m., Rebecca Goodale will speak informally in the exhibition gallery about her project.

On Tuesday, November 9, at 7:30 p.m., Don Cameron, botanist/ecologist, Maine Natural Areas Program, will present the lecture "Introduction to Maine's Rarest Plants" in the Beam Classroom, Visual Arts Center.

On Tuesday, November 16, at 7:30 p.m., Phillip deMaynadier, wildlife biologist, Endangered Species Group, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, will speak on "Good Things Come to Those Who Wade: A Survey of Aquatic Nongame Wildlife Projects at the Maine Department of Fish and Wildlife," also in the Beam Classroom, Visual Arts Center.

Threatened and Endangered appears at Bowdoin as part of an exhibition project that includes installations and public programs at eight venues throughout the state of Maine during 2004 and 2005. The project is funded in part through a New Century Arts and Humanities grant from the Maine Arts Commission and the Maine Humanities Council, with additional support from the Maine Women Writers Collection at the University of New England. At Bowdoin, additional support for the exhibition and its related programs comes from the Friends of Bowdoin College Fund, the Bowdoin College Library, and the Department of Biology.

Black Racer. Photo: Luc Demers.

A catalog accompanies the exhibition, which includes an essay by Linda J. Docherty, Bowdoin professor of art history, and images of Goodale's works. The catalog is free and available at the George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, 3rd floor, Hawthorne-Longfellow Library.

Picturing Nature, a display of books that feature illustrations of American nature found in rare books from Bowdoin's Special Collections, has also been installed in Hawthorne-Longfellow Library's 2nd floor gallery as a complement to the Goodale exhibition. Along with Goodale's, these works, such as James Audubon's Birds of America and Kate Furbish's Flora of Maine, provide source materials for the Art History/Environmental Studies class with the same name that Professor Docherty offers regularly at Bowdoin.

Rebecca Goodale, a Portland artist, has taught visual arts at Bowdoin, the University of Southern Maine, and the Maine College of Art. The Bowdoin College Library serves as the principal repository for all of her works.

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