a cuore aperto

For the past year I have been working with the artist Janice Gordon to construct a series of triptychs and collages, which are now winging across the ocean to a gallery in Florence. Janice's work is a captivating blend of found objects and metaphysical speculation. She finds the spirit carried within each object, and by assembling these disparate pieces of our cultural and natural history, projects an evocative and many-layered story.  The stories of this body of work, titled A Cuore Aperto, are concerned with the heart and its complex physical and spiritual connotations.

Janice Gordon: Heart Sutra

Heart Sutra, Janice Gordon

Working with Janice has been a delight, as we share so many common interests and aesthetics. My contribution was the assembly of the triptychs and their mechanical action, using antique book covers almost exclusively. Janice's collages juxtapose antique marbled book covers and pastedowns with histological slides used in contemporary medical research. The cardiovascular cell structures on these slides eerily and beautifully harmonize with the marbled patterns. Needless to say, working amidst piles of gorgeous antique papers and distressed old medical books has been dreamy!

Janice Gordon: Affinities

Affinities, Janice Gordon

A Cuore Aperto will be on view at C2 Contemporanea 2 in Florence beginning this Thursday, September 11.

Janice Gordon: A Cuore Aperto

September 11 - October 10, 2014

C2 contemporanea 2 di Antonio lo Pinto

C2 è a Firenze in via Ugo Foscolo, 6 50124 FI

From the curator, Silvia Cangioli:

With a particular interest in the heart, Janice Gordon works in the liminal space between apparent opposites: matter and spirit, science and religion, nature and culture. In this new series A Cuore Aperto, art and science, tradition and modernity live together in work which has both great emotional impact and a delicate sensibility.
With the determination of a researcher who seeks to comprehend the heart in all its aspects, Gordon has studied the representation of the heart in art history and how the portrayal of the heart has evolved in connection with our medical understanding of how it functions; she went to Florence to peruse the antique anatomical texts in Florentine libraries and visited the extraordinary collection of anatomical waxes at the Museum of Natural History; she observed cardiovascular interventions in operating rooms; she visited medical schools and laboratories in Europe and America...
...This was the genesis of A Cuore Aperto: she began to combine magnified images of cardiovascular tissue which she had photographed in research laboratories with traditional materials and historical forms associated with Florence. Thus were born the Triptychs that the artist created using antique marbleized book covers from her collection. These works, which have the aura of sacred objects, are akin to medieval traveling altars and are also a reference to the ancient tradition of marbleized paper, for which Florence is renowned.
Gordon's Tryptichs, however, are enigmatic, as if they were guarding a secret: an image which is a revelation of contemporary science. The marbleized doors open to a central panel revealing cardiovascular cells, and the forms created by the art of marbleization resonate to such a degree with nature's biological structures that it is strangely difficult to discriminate between the two.
Janice Gordon: Saint's Companion

Saint's Companion, Janice Gordon

madame bovary: beginning

I have begun work on a new series of artist books. These projects are always carried out in my spare time -  away from commissions, consulting, and mercenary quilting. I enjoy all of my work (at least very nearly), but artist books allow me to pursue the particular combination of conceptual and materials-driven binding that is most satisfying. This time I have also set myself the task learning a little more about book conservation.

I've begun the rebinding of a 1930 edition of Madame Bovary in the original french, with the intention of preserving the rather dilapidated book and redesigning the case. I am no fine binder (leather? linen, thanks), but will be drawing on my textile skills to hopefully make this an artful binding and homage to Flaubert's masterpiece. I will be periodically sharing my progress with you here to give a glimpse of the process.

The book was published by Louis Conard in Paris in quarter leather with a gilt head and faux raised cords. The end papers are beautifully marbled, and the book has striped headbands with a matching woven bookmark. The pages have all been opened.

madame bovary, 1930 edition watermark

These antique fabrics will be dyed and used in covering the new case. From the top down they are french lace, a cap, handkerchief, chemise, curtain, bed linen, and petticoat. As you see, my concept has much to do with the cosseted, domestic world of 19th century womanhood. By using these layers of personal and public garments I hope to get at the clash between Emma Bovary's private romantic fantasies and her pragmatic, provincial daily life.

Wish me luck, this book is about to be stripped bare while the textiles go into the indigo vat!